Editor’s note: This story is the second in a series of five in which Will County black male pastors respond to the killing of George Floyd and the protests that followed.
Two wrongs don’t make a right.
It’s an idiom Rev. Herbert Brooks Jr., pastor of St. John Missionary Baptist Church in Joliet and a member of the Will County Board, used to punctuate his feelings about the recent protests.
And Brooks said he believes two wrongs don’t make a right. He said he believes that as a man and as a Christian.
“I don’t understand what the violence and the rioting has to do with George Floyd’s death,” Brooks said. “I understand the frustration. I get the frustration. But I have never gotten so frustrated that I felt like burning down Target.”
Brooks feels the violence and vandalism is indicative of another problem.
“Something else is going on,” Brooks said. “I don’t know what that is. But I will tell you this: We’re in the middle of a pandemic and in the middle of some bad times in America right now anyway. Why do you want to do something like this at a time like this? That’s what I don’t understand.”
Even if many people have momentarily forgotten the world is in the midst of a pandemic, Brooks said he himself has not forgotten it.
He’s concerned that, in the midst of the violence, people aren’t even taking proper pandemic precautions.
People aren’t wearing masks and they are not practicing social distancing, he said.
“This pandemic can start all over again,” Brooks said.
Brooks doesn’t understand why people would take such risks, “just to make a point.”
“I’m 65 years old,” Brooks said. “I’ve been African American all my life. I understand, first of all, the injustice. I get it.”
Brooks said he was a little boy when John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. He clearly recalls the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 and Robert F. Kennedy, also in 1968.
He feels violence was not the answer in the 1960s and he feels violence is not the answer now. Brooks said if he lives “another 65 years on this earth” he still will not understand how people can think acts of violence will bring about justice for an unjust death.
“One has nothing to do with the other,” Brooks said. “Yes, justice has to be done, but I tell you, this violence needs to stop.”
Brooks feels change starts with prayer and he wants people “to pray for our country.” He cited Amos 3:3 in the Bible, which says, “Can two walk together without agreeing where to go?”
People need to be united in their efforts at this time, he said.