Yesterday afternoon a number of us from Redeemer sat in a grand room on the 4th floor of City Hall, yards away from Darryl De Sousa, recently appointed by Mayor Catherine Pugh to serve as our city’s new police commissioner. We were present as part of BUILD (Baltimoreans United In Leadership Development), representing Baltimore’s faith community and various civic organizations in our city.
For several minutes, De Sousa addressed the room and members of City Council in a modest, quiet tone. He shared vignettes from his childhood, including the time he jumped out of a window with a blanket-as-cape around his neck, wanting to save people as Superman. He apologized for the crimes committed by the elite Gun Trace Task Force and vowed to root out corruption in our city’s police department and rebuild trust in communities between residents and police officers. And he listened as the first person who stepped to the podium, to speak on behalf of the public, lambasted him with anger and cynicism, expressing the long-felt pain of so many Baltimoreans whose trust in the police is chronically shattered and who question how an “insider” of a corrupt system can bring about necessary change and reform.
This tirade was followed by the testimony of BUILD, led by our clergy co-chair, the Rev. Andrew Foster Connors, Senior Pastor of Brown Memorial Park Avenue in Bolton Hill. “We as BUILD stand in support of you and want to work with you, because our city needs you to succeed and cannot afford for you to fail.” Registered nurse Antoinette Mugar thanked De Sousa for agreeing to meet with BUILD leaders on March 6, to listen to our priorities and specific recommendations on how to rebuild trust between police and residents, and called for a public forum to be held within 90-days, for De Sousa to report on progress made. When Antoinette invited anyone in the room with BUILD to stand up, an army of us, shy of a hundred, in blue BUILD t-shirts rose out of our seats with conviction and a deep love for our city.
An hour or so later, another army shy of a hundred gathered in our south transept, to hear Heather Mizeur, founder of MizMaryland: Soul Force Politics. “Our spirit empowers us, connects us, and stokes the passions of our hearts. Our political discourse desperately needs the guidance, strength, and clarity of our soul’s force for good in the world. Inner Wisdom + External Actions = Soul Force Politics.” As a Christian who also draws from the wisdom of a variety of faith traditions, she offered: “The radical love [modeled by] Jesus Christ is the medicine needed for these troubled times.”
People of faith, acting out of a deep and abiding love of God-in-humanity; standing up, rising, and acting, to be the change and to bring about the healing so desperately needed in our communities and in our world.
This is what we are about, who we are called to be, and what we are called to do.