A Time for Lament

President Julie Sullivan shared the following in email to the University of St. Thomas community on Friday, Feb. 4, 2022.

Our hearts are heavy with the news of yet another young Black person killed by Minneapolis police, this time just blocks from our Minneapolis campus. I write to share a note that Rob Vischer, dean of the St. Thomas School of Law, sent to the law school community this afternoon.

As a community, St. Thomas uplifts the dignity of every human being. Let’s pause and pray for those impacted by this incident and ask God for the fortitude to work harder for solutions that bring peace.

The staff in Student Diversity and Inclusion Services (SDIS) is available to meet with any student, including Dougherty Family College students and students from the Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses, who need a space to process this incident. The Center for Well-Being has counseling resources available as well.

Please be kind to one another. I hope that you feel God’s love for you today.

Dear students,

Amir Locke, age 22, was shot and killed by police on Wednesday three blocks from our campus.

Jahmari Rice, age 15, was shot and killed by classmates at school on Tuesday seven miles from our campus.

Wilbert Mora, age 27, and Jason Rivera, age 22, were police officers shot and killed in New York City two weeks ago while responding to a domestic disturbance.

Each one of these deaths leaves devastated families in their wake. Each one is a reminder of our world’s brokenness. And yes, the circumstances of each death compel different responses from us as human beings and as lawyers. They each warrant different conversations about policies and cultures and paths forward. And they each will prompt different decision points and plans of action.

As a law school community made up of approximately 570 students, faculty and staff, we bring 570 different lenses to the world’s pain – lenses shaped by our own life experiences, commitments, fears and hopes for the future. In the coming days, some of us will lead protests. Some of us will help facilitate legislative reform. Some of us will continue mentoring young people living on the margins. Some of us will invest in our communities by working in law enforcement. Some of us will advocate for a better world through whatever gifts we have to offer. Some of us will feel paralyzed by our grief.

I do not write to endorse, much less prescribe, any particular course of action in response to the suffering that surrounds us. I write to remind our community that, while this is a time for action, this is also a time for lament. Amir Locke was a child of God of inestimable value. Jahmari Rice was a child of God of inestimable value. Wilbert Mora was a child of God of inestimable value. Jason Rivera was a child of God of inestimable value. We grieve their deaths.

A passage from the book of Lamentations:

The hearts of the people
cry out to the Lord.
You walls of Daughter Zion,
let your tears flow like a river
day and night;
give yourself no relief,
your eyes no rest.
Arise, cry out in the night,
as the watches of the night begin;
pour out your heart like water
in the presence of the Lord.
Lift up your hands to him
for the lives of your children,
who faint from hunger
at every street corner.

For those seeking physical space to lament, our chapel is open to all. If you would like to speak to a counselor, please consider the university’s Counseling and Psychological Services.

With warm regard,
Dean Vischer

Robert K. Vischer
Dean and Mengler Chair in Law
School of Law