By Sylvia Knight
Sylvia Knight is a member of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Burlington and serves on the Steering Committee for the Vermont Freedom Bail Fund. The following article is a follow-up to Sylvia’s April 15 “Reflections on Jesus’ Passion, Covenant, Easter and Justice.”
“Let us pray for a renewed vision for the people of God and a new commitment to break the chains of oppression.”
During the Great Vigil of Easter Saturday night we heard Bishop Ely share this exhortation with us following the story of God calling Moses through the burning bush to deliver his people from oppression in Egypt.
Chains of oppression? In Vermont? Sadly, yes, now. And nationally as well. Mexican and Central American immigrants without documentation live in fear of arrest and separation from their families and community despite their having no criminal record. Do our hearts and minds not recoil from such injustice?
People across the country are organizing bail funds, both for immigrants caught in the ICE/prison complex, and in communities working to keep family and other community members out of prison before they are convicted.
In March 2017 two young people working for Migrant Justice were followed from their office by 4 ICE officers, stopped, physically pulled from their car, shackled and humiliated in front of passersby, and imprisoned for 3 weeks, simply because they were working for Migrant Justice. They still suffer from PTSD (1).
Liberation is a biblical concept ripe for today. If some are subject to arrest without warrant or cause, none of us is truly free. Today we can respond to the appeals of our prophets Enrique, Zully, Victor, Miguel, whose hearts burn with passion for justice for their people in Vermont and around the country. They work for human rights and for release from daily fear of being ensnared in dehumanizing systems of incarceration. One farmworker said, “We want justice; we want to live in peace.”
Their voices are for me the burning bush of God: their pain, creative energy, and desire for justice shine like a holy fire. They are not defeated or consumed in the fire but rise up again and again to proclaim their human dignity, and work for the righteous cause of God’s justice. Will we hear their call?
Here are some organizations and resources for our response:
- Vermont Freedom Bail Fund: https://fondo.migrantvt.org
- Migrant Justice: www.migrantjustice.net.
- Milk with Dignity: www.milkwithdignity.org