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Update on the Olympia shootings this week by police of two African-American youth. The Rev. George Anne McDonnell and the Rev. RC Laird were present at the courthouse and have been attentive to the community in these last days.

Rev. McDonnell’s update:
At 1:00am on May 21, there was a shooting of two young African American men who had shoplifted beer from the Westside Safeway. When confronted by a shop clerk, the young men threw their beer and ran. The police were notified. One policeman from the force pursued the two men into the woods and fired shots. The two young men were hospitalized at Saint Peter’s as both were shot in the chest.

Yesterday afternoon at Woodruff Park on the Westside, there was a massive march. There was also a demonstration at Olympia City Hall.

Interfaith Works, our ministerial association here in Thurston County quickly moved to have Temple Beth Hatfiloh hold a meeting with City Officials (including the mayor) and the Police Chief last night at 6:00pm.

At that meeting, there were about 20 different faith communities represented. The room was packed with concerned citizens. Saint Benedict’s was represented by our People’s Warden, Kathy Baros-Friedt. There was outrage expressed at the shooting, and a demand for accountability as shooting an unarmed foiled shoplifter seemed excessive.

The Police informed citizens that a review process would be conducted by the Sheriff’s Office. Concerned citizens voiced that a Citizen Review Panel is a necessity in Olympia and now is the time for that to take place.

The review of the officer involved in this shooting will take about six weeks. In the meanwhile, the citizens of our three cities are watching and hoping that justice is possible in this situation. Many citizens are asking for forums and places for conversation about police force, relationship with minority communities, and the hiring process for officers.

And of course, people are wondering how race plays a factor in this shooting and the countless others across our nation.

There is no doubt that there is tension and anger right now in our county as this violence unmasks the tensions that often are beneath the surface.

As the city officials and the review of this shooting proceed forward, I ask for your prayers; prayers for justice and for healing.

I also ask you to pray and to remember your baptismal covenant; seeking and serving Christ in all persons, loving neighbor, respecting the dignity of every human being, repenting and of course breaking bread with each and being in fellowship.

Church is not just the place but is also the people who pray for our world, ask important questions and use our gifts and calling to build up Christ’s kingdom in the world; a kingdom where all people are treated with equity and dignity.

We will continue to watch and pray.

Olympia Shootings

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