8 minutes and 46 seconds

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Written by Alan Vink

Categories: Pastors Blog

Tags: Church and society

Comments: 0

Dear Pastors

That’s how long Derek Chauvin had his knee on George Floyd’s neck on that fateful day of the 25th May. Even with cries of ”I can’t breathe”, calling out for his Mama (he was losing consciousness), one or two bystanders yelling “check his pulse” and to top it all off Thomas Lane, one of the other three Police Officers who was only just out of his probation period, urging Chauvin to turn George onto his side, Chauvin simply said, “No, we’re all good.”

Then George Floyd died.

And please remember George Floyd is in handcuffs. It’s too horrible to watch. It’s too hard to believe. It’s too sad for words.

8 minutes and 46 seconds. That’s a long time. So I want to ask Derek Chauvin a few questions today.

  1. Why did you do this? George Floyd was no threat to you or anyone else. He didn’t resist you. So, why?
  2. What has made you so angry, so hateful and so violent towards African American people?
  3. What has happened in your background, especially your childhood, that you have never faced up to yet has made you so dysfunctional as an adult? Surely after 18 complaints in 19 years of policing against you, you must have realised something was wrong with you? And it beggars belief that your bosses didn’t make that conclusion and take you off the front line and get you into some in-depth counselling and rehabilitation?
  4. Why did you resist any suggestion to ease up? To take your knee off George Floyd’s neck? You had 8mins and 46 seconds to think about it. Even when you saw a few bystanders rolling their video camera’s you kept going. What were you thinking?
  5. And finally for now, did you really believe you are above the law or somehow immune from it? How come you have come to believe you are more powerful than the very law you are tasked to enforce? What kind of institutional culture has developed in the Minneapolis Police Dept that fed into this act of brutality? And this may be the most important question.

In raising these questions it is also forced me to take another look deep inside my own heart, my own mind and my own attitudes. I am not aware of any cultural bias let alone racism within me. But reading again about white privilege and systemic racism I think I need to revisit my understanding. My final words to my Maori friends, Tipene and Hinerehua Oxenham, on the phone last night was, “can I visit with you some time soon and talk about white privilege”? I can’t tell you how much love and respect I have for these folks and how much they have blessed me and my family over 25 years or so.



Alan Vink is currently the Executive Director for LeadershipWorx. Prior to this role he has been the Executive Director of Willow Creek Association NZ (WillowNZ), a Baptist pastor (23 years), Bible College teacher, and church consultant.

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