Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Days of violence and hate

Whoever says, "I am in the light," while hating a brother or sister, is still in the darkness. Whoever loves a brother or sister lives in the light.
- 1 John 2:9-10

Nov. 10 in Upper Darby, Pa.:
Hoa Pham and his wife are brutally attacked and tortured in their home -- he is killed and his wife is hospitalized with serious injuries. The Pham family are parishioners of St. Alice Parish in Upper Darby; the church is holding a week-long prayer vigil.
Pham, an officer in the South Vietnamese Army, was imprisoned for seven years in a communist prison camp before emigrating to the United States 17 years ago.
The funeral is set for Saturday.
Read the report from Channel 6-Philadelphia's ABC affiliate:

Nov. 9 in Patchogue, N.Y.:
Seven teens are charged with fatally stabbing an Ecuadorian immigrant. According to reports, they admit they were looking for a "Hispanic" to beat up. Authorities consider it a hate crime. Read the Newsday report:

And on Nov. 13 in Pottsville, Pa. there will be a hearing in the case against three teens who are charged with the brutal death of Luis Ramirez, a 25-year-old undocumented immigrant working in Shenandoah, Pa. as a fruit picker and factory worker. Because the teens were allegedly screaming racial slurs at Ramirez, this is also considered a hate crime by some. The incident took place in July of this year.
Read about the scheduled hearing in the Republican Herald:

How does a community heal from the depth of violence and hatred evinced by these tragedies?

A while back, I spoke to Robert Nix, the chairman of the Police Advisory Commission in Philadelphia. He had spoken at a vigil in Shenandoah days after the attack on Ramirez about just that -- how to put a community back together.

"From what I've seen," he said, "healing communities takes a lot of honest effort and hard work. It takes open dialogue between everyone in the community -- all of the stakeholders. It takes strong and decisive local leadership. It takes a belief in the innate goodness of man. It takes fair and impartial justice. And it takes forgiveness from the heart."

"We need to have faith," he added. "Faith in our fellow man, and faith in God ... to rebuild a relationship of mutual trust among [the community's] members."

Please join your prayers to those of the Pham children and the Vietnamese community in Upper Darby, to the grieving family of Marcelo Lucero in Patchogue and Ecuador, and to Luis Ramirez's family and friends in Shenandoah and Mexico.

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