Open letter from West Midlands Methodist Church Leaders

Revd Ian Howarth, Chair of the Birmingham Methodist District, and Revd Rachel Parkinson, Chair of the Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury Methodist District, have issued a joint letter to Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, and David Jamieson, West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner.

The letter reads as follows:

23rd June 2020
Dear Mayor and Police Commissioner,
We write as leaders of the Methodist community across the West Midlands. This is a diverse community of churches involving and working with people of a variety of ethnic backgrounds.

As a result of the events around the killing of George Floyd and the response of people of all communities supporting the Black Lives Matter campaign, we have made a particular effort to listen to the concerns of our BAME colleagues and church members. This has resulted in fruitful and sometimes painful conversations.

In these conversations there is a particular concern about experiences of police brutality directed at black men by members of the West Midlands police. We are conscious that in our churches there are people who have family members and extended family and friends who are being affected by this police behaviour. We wish to express our solidarity with them through giving voice to their concerns.

We are aware of the IOPC inquiry into the over-use of force against black men by your police officers and we welcome the apology last week from the Chief Constable. We are aware that as a church, we also are not yet ‘free from bias, discrimination or even racism.’ We do not seek to be at cross-purposes, but to be collaborative and complementary partners in seeking justice and peace for our communities.

Nevertheless, we would like to ask what ongoing action is going to be taken to ensure that these issues are dealt with and racist behaviour is eradicated from the force. We want the communities we serve to be places where parents can know that their sons are protected rather than targeted by the police and to be places of togetherness and freedom for all, rather than places of fear and anxiety for people of colour.

Yours sincerely,
Ian Howarth and Rachel Parkinson

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