JUST over two weeks after he was shot in his own apartment in Dallas, Texas, Botham Shem Jean was finally laid to rest Monday at the Choc Cemetery amid calls to all Saint Lucians and people in the city he was killed in to stand up for justice.
It was a time for Saint Lucians and his home country to bid him farewell and to reflect on the outstanding life he lived both here and in the country where he met his death.
But even as the country mourned the death of Jean and tried to mirror his life the call for ”Justice for Botham” could not be hidden.
“All of our lives have changed because this young man has lived. Jesus Christ is being put on display and his church is being put on display as well and Botham’s death is helping all of us to realized that we have to tear down walls and sit down at tables and try to come up with solutions to be sure that nothing like this, nothing even close to this, ever happens again,” said Pastor Sammie Berry of the Church of Christ West Dallas, who delivered the funeral’s sermon Monday.
It was a funeral service beamed to the world and held at the largest religious denominational structure in the country, the Minor Basilica in downtown Castries.
The call for justice in Botham’s shooting death by an off-duty female Dallas police officer has been resonating from pulpits both here and in Dallas and in churches that are predominantly white in membership and predominantly black in membership.
“The call for justice is not optional for Christians. Christians need to speak-out, stop defending things Jesus will condemn,” was the rallying call from Pastor George Mason from the Wilshire Baptiste Church in Dallas.
The death of 26-year-old Jean, said to be a God-fearing, respectful young man filled with promise shocked all those who knew him and created a ripple of emotion that continues to spread way beyond Texas and the Caribbean.
In the midst of the anger, the bottomless grief, outrage, horror and outright fury that gripped all who understood how Jean’s life was snuffed out, the cry for justice shines brightly, from the corridors of government offices on the Castries Waterfront to the streets of Dallas and across the United States.
The umbrella body of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States OECS) released a special message to the world that revealed its stance for justice in Jean’s death.
Even students, holding up placards last week, right here in Saint Lucia, roared out their message for justice in the Jean case.
And on Monday, amidst the grief of the final farewell paid to Jean, that message shone even brighter as speaker after speaker, in one way or another, called on people all over not to let Jean die in vain.
“When I leave here, I am going back to Dallas, Texas and we’re going to stand up for Botham,” said Pastor Berry, who called on the congregation at the funeral to stand to their feet and shout “Stand up for Botham.”
The more than three-hours-long funeral service was punctuated by tributes from friends, family, representatives from government and academia, representatives from places he worked both here and in Dallas, singing, tears – even on the pulpit — and a host of other touching occurrences reminiscent of such events.