This is Baltimore

Standing on the Side of Love

The following was sent to subscribers to the Standing on the Side of Love email list. The subject line: “In Baltimore, my liberation is bound up with yours.”

We are grateful to be sharing this salient message from Rev. David Carl Olson, Minister of First Unitarian Church of Baltimore. His post was originally published here. To see information on how to take action in solidarity, wherever you are based, check out Baltimore United for Change here.

Dear Friends,

We must not imagine that what’s happening in Baltimore will be “over” for a very long time. There are cries for “peace” in our city—and from outside our city—which imagine that stopping the violence-spree of angry (and organized!) youth and getting back to normal is desired. I am not sure that this is desired, and I know that it is not even possible. The frustration of the young people in Baltimore is the frustration of a people that have known police harassment their entire lives. The “War on Drugs” created a culture that made it illegal to be poor, to be Black, to live in the neighborhood you live in and to hang out with your friends. This generation has faced a city where the “Zero Tolerance Policy” criminalized childhood, criminalized growing up in East and West Baltimore, and that is not going to change, even when the State of Emergency is lifted and the National Guard goes home.

Black Lives Matter_SSLBaltimore snatched up its streets last night. We occupied our space, with courage, pride and joy. To see the 300 Men March walking in their organized fashion and shaking hands, calling for peace, encouraging boys and young men—this was Baltimore. Watching Baptist Churches hold services on the street corners, seeing Methodists chatting one to one with every person they could find, walking with robed Catholics who know the poor of their parish—this was Baltimore. Witnessing the gangs, in their colors, claiming their territory and encouraging youngsters to obey the curfew, because they care for each other, and don’t want the police to have any excuse to make additional frivolous arrests—this was Baltimore.

Seeing the Drum and PomPom Squad marching perhaps 60-70 strong, with a core of drummers and dozens of teenagers—mostly Black, all fabulous, including many young men who identify as gay and can strut in their teal spangled body suits and shake their pom poms with the rest of them—and have the crowd cheer, show their love, shout their pride—this was Baltimore.

Tuesday night was an amazing moment.

But there are so many tense moments ahead of us. How will the police respond? And the State Attorney? The Federal Department of Justice? There will be quite a few moments in the next month where Baltimore’s peace may be threatened.

And so it should be. There is a generation of folk, among many generations of folk, whose lives have been shaped by this oppressive culture, and the particularly oppressive culture of the War on Drugs. We need to be part of re-making the culture with accountability to the people who are marginalized and oppressed. We must work in accountable relationship that repair may happen in that generation and in our nation’s soul.

Of course you are welcome to come to Baltimore. I’ll try to keep things on our First Unitarian Church of Baltimore Facebook page letting you know “what’s up.” But my mantra, every day, as I walk these streets (and then retire to my quite nice, leafy neighborhood) is “I have come because my liberation is bound up with yours. May we work together?”

All kinds of support is urgently needed. We are working with Baltimore United for Change. Baltimore United for Change is calling for solidarity actions around the country on Saturday, May 2nd. Please visit their website and support this coalition. And take action in your own community.

Much love to you (us!) all.

Reverend Olson 2

David Carl Olson

(The kids call me “Rev”)

Call to Action: Public Witness

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Join Wilmington Peacekeepers on Thursday night in public witness against violence in our community.

On April 28, two women were shot in the neighborhood of Sixth and Madison Streets, not far from the YWCA Home Life Management Center. One of them later died at Christiana Hospital.

The details are linked here. The dead woman’s name is Artise Brown.

Wilmington Peacekeepers has asked for our support at their weekly street meeting and vigil, which will be held at Sixth and Madison at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 30.

If you feel called to be there, please gather in the parking lot across from First Unitarian at 5:15 pm. Thursday. If you have Standing on the Side of Love apparel, wear it. We will carpool to the site promptly at 5:30, returning by dark.

Please let me know if you intend to come. Email me or merely leave a comment on this web page.

In peace,

Jeff Lott

Delaware Repeal: A Crucial Time

From our friends at Delaware Repeal, who are “this close” to getting a vote in the House to repeal the death penalty in our state. Do what you can to help them, won’t you?


Hello Friend,

Many of you have emailed to ask how you can help repeal the death penalty in Delaware, and we couldn’t be more thankful for your support. That being said, we are entering a crucial time in the campaign—and we need your support in these key areas:

Read our Briefing Book. It contains all the facts and testimony supporting repeal. Forward this email to your friends and relatives and encourage them to read it. It’s truly an educational and eye-opening document.

Our big lobby day is Wednesday, May 6 at Legislative Hall. Meet us in the basement cafeteria at noon. We’ll have resources on hand you can use to speak with your legislator.

Come to the SB 40 Committee Hearing on Wednesday, May 13 to show your support for repeal. At this time, we believe the hearing will start at noon and we’re asking people to meet us in the basement cafeteria at 10:30 a.m. Please email me to let me know if you can come.

We still need letters to the editor to your local newspaper to ensure your representative knows you want to repeal the death penalty. Not a writer? Email me and I’ll be glad to help.

Thank you for your continued support!


Ellen Jones, Communications Coordinator

Connect with DELAWARE REPEAL through our Facebook and Twitter feeds for upcoming events and specific updates on repeal in Delaware and across the nation.

Special: Watch Michelle Alexander

Michelle-Alexander-175x200Live Streaming
Thursday, April 30, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Room 25, First Unitarian Church

Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, will be speaking at the Quaker retreat center Pendle Hill in Wallingford, Pa., on Thursday morning. Our own Rev. Paula Maiorano will be there as part of a four-day workshop for organizers of the movement to dismantle this egregious form of racial and caste control. Seats in the workshop were sold out weeks ago, but a live streaming feed from Pendle Hill on Thursday morning has been arranged. And it’s free! 

Join me and other members of this rising movement to hear Michelle Alexander. RSVP at, or leave a comment on this post. Anyone who has heard Michelle Alexander discuss mass incarceration, the drug war, and the New Jim Crow knows what a powerful experience this will be.

Jeff Lott

Faithful Dialogue: New Jim Crow

First Sundays for Social Justice
Sunday, May 3, 9:30 a.m. in Brunner Chapel

“Beyond the Sins of Innocence”

New Jim Crow bookMany members of First Unitarian have been involved in forming and sustaining the Coalition to Dismantle the New Jim Crow. It all started with Rev. Paula Maiorano’s February 2012 sermon at First U (Beyond the Sins of Innocence) about Michelle Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow, Mass Incarceration in an Age of Colorblindness, and it has spread to study/action groups in churches throughout our region and organizations like the YWCA. Action subcommittees are working on awareness, prevention, education, pardons and expungement of juvenile records, and repealing the death penalty. Please come and learn about our plans—including a major conference on Hope, Opportunity, and Racism: Breaking the Poverty to Prison Pipeline, scheduled for November 14.

Hosted by Jeff Lott and Joan Priest. Copies of The New Jim Crow will be available for purchase at a discount price of $16.00..

Saturday, May 2: The Trauma of Violence



Several members of First Unitarian are actively organizing Delaware’s Movement for a Culture of Peace (MCP), a broad coalition of faith and secular groups seeking to change the culture of violence that infects Wilmington and the entire community.

MCP will explore the effects of violence on victims, families, and communities at its regular monthly forum on Saturday, May 2. Since November, MCP has been sponsoring events on the first Saturday of each month, creating conversations that can lead to a culture of peace—replacing endemic violence with nonviolence and fostering greater respect for the worth and dignity of every person in our larger community.

This forum will address our community’s response to violence.

What is being done in Delaware to respond to the frequent crises that engulf victims, families, and local communities? What are the resources available to address the trauma of violence? Are they adequate? Wha additional resources are needed to heal the wounds and restore our communities to a culture of peace?

One thing is clear: We cannot do this alone.

MCP has assembled a panel of caring people who have been coordinating these resources. We seek to bring together the wounded community and all potential caregivers. And we want to know about the gaps in the system: How can we address the unmet needs for compassion and support? Is the law enforcement community responding appropriately? Is help getting to persons and communities who need it most?

Come to the May 2 Forum and get involved. Register here and get directions.

Earth Day Opportunity: April 18


Join First Unitarian’s Green Sanctuary team as we green our world.

2015_Cleanup_T-shirtSaturday, April 18
8:00 to Noon

Help steward the single most important natural resource in our region – our waterways. The Christina River Watershed provides 75% of the public water supply for residents and businesses in New Castle County. A solid effort is needed annually to improve wildlife habitat and keep these waterways as free from debris as possible.

First U volunteers will meet at 7:30 a.m. at the home of Dee Burdash (114 Broadbent Rd, Northminster) for coffee, juice, and bagels before heading out to pitch in at the cleanup’s Naamans Creek location. They will be working an area behind Sweeney’s Bakery in the Foulk & Naamans Shopping Center.

To participate at Naaman’s Creek, email Renee Anderson so she knows how many bagels. You must also register as a volunteer at You will be asked for contact information, shirt size, and the site at which you wish to volunteer, If you cannot join us at Naaman’s Creek, pick a spot more convenient.

Since the Christina Cleanup began in 1992, more than 330 tons of tires, appliances, household items, and uncountable pieces of plastic and styrofoam have been cleared from the Christina River, White Clay Creek, Red Clay Creek, and various other tributaries.  Upwards of 12,000 volunteers have found filling trash bags in Churchman’s Marsh, White Clay Creek State Park, the City of Wilmington, City of Newark, and various other locations to be extremely rewarding.


The care of our rivers is not a question of rivers, but of the human heart. — Tanaka Shozo