Const. John Atkinson, a 14-year veteran of the Windsor police force and a father of two was 37 years old when he was shot dead on Friday by young men up to no good. He was by all accounts a decent man, a loyal police officer and good father and husband. We will be sadly missed by those who knew him, but he will also be missed by the community. Last Friday all of us in this community had a little of our freedom and independence removed by the sting of death. We are now a city and wider community in grief and mourning.
What are we to do with our shock and grief? A police officer has never before been murdered in this community. "The only cure for grief is action." These words of George Henry Lewes offer a clue as to how this community will react. We must take action. In the immediate future, in the next few days we will take time to say farewell. A Memorial service is planned for Tuesday Evening and Const. Atkinson’s funeral will be Thursday morning. Plans are being made to make every opportunity for the community to come together and to offer its respect and to pray. I encourage us all to do just that. If nothing else we can visit the Windsor Stars’ web page and sign a book of condolences. We will act on our grief.
After we are done with saying goodbye I should hope that we should all act to make things different. We take for granted those who offer themselves for dangerous duty. We fail to realize that our safety and well being is protected by people like Constable Atkinson. Part of our action in grief should really focus on offering support for our local policing agencies. We also need to act to help the youth of today be more responsible. We all play a role in raising the kids around us. We all need to pay more heed to the needs of those in our communities. How tragic today, to hear the father of one of these 18 years olds speak so fondly f the slain officer and clearly he must be in shock and living with horror. Several families were torn apart on Friday – all in the name of violence. We cannot allow our grief to paralyse us. We must really come together to be better. We are not alone. The pain of this community is wrapped up in the human condition. “My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together." Those words are from Archbishop Desmond Tutu. How long will we allow violence to have the final say? We must speak peace. Now more than ever in Windsor we have to be human together. We have to take heart and be active to live the way of peace and non-violence. On Sunday past we heard these words from 1st John. –
“We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us–and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.”
People like Const. Atkinson took that to heart. We ought to as well. We must strive to make the human condition better. Let us love in action!