From Staff Reports
Leaders across the nation have made their voices heard in regard to the recent killings of Alton Sherling in Baton Rouge, La., and Philander Castile in St. Paul, Minn., at the hands of police officers as well as the shootings and deaths of Dallas, Texas officers by a sniper.
On July 14, the Mississippi State Conference NAACP and Mt. Helm Church will host a conversation about police brutality in light of the recent tragedies.
The event will convene at 6 p.m. July 14, at Mt. Helm Church, 300 Church St., in Jackson.
Confirmed guest speakers are Jackson Police Chief Lee Vance, Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey, a representative from Hinds County Sheriff’s Department, Rep. Kabir Karriem and National Alliance for Mental Illness Executive Director Tameka Smith.
“It is our hope that these conversations lead to community-based solutions that bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community,” said Derrick Johnson, MS NAACP president.
Counselors and spiritual leaders will be in attendance to provide prayer and counseling services for individuals who are angry and fearful as a result of recent incidents.
“The community is in pain and scared. We’re afraid for our children and we’re hurt that the justice system has failed us so many times. We hope that this event provides answers and healing to the community.”
Some statements of response from national leaders are as follows:
Melanie L. Campbell, president and CEO of the national coalition on black civic participation said, “After two days in which two black lives were taken by police and now last night’s murder of five Dallas police officers who were merely doing their job protecting peaceful protesters, I am stunned and heartbroken. This is a time that is so hard to grasp where it will end up for black people and the nation as a whole.
“The National Coalition of Black Civic Participation joins the nation in praying for the police officers’ families who were gunned down so senselessly as well as the victims who are in hospital fighting for their lives. It is our hope that this nation find strength in prayer and in unity.”
Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., president andCEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, said, “The killings of African Americans in Louisiana and Minnesota during the past week represent an escalating national pattern of fatal police killings that appear to be racially motivated.
“These incidents are not isolated local tragedies, but are the terrible growing manifestations of a deadly national system of racism in the criminal justice system that needs to be effectively challenged and changed. There are today too many African-American families and communities that continue to endure police brutality and fatal violence across the United States. This is a national crisis that demands immediate federal intervention to both investigate and to prosecute police officers who commit these wanton racially motivated killings.
“We, therefore, demand that a Special Federal Prosecutor be immediately appointed by the United States Department of Justice. To date, unfortunately, local investigations and prosecutions have been ineffective and have not insured equal justice. The Special Federal Prosecutor has to be independent and impartial. We have heard from many NNPA member publishers throughout the nation who expressed profound disgust and moral outrage about these brutalities. We will not be silent in the face of these continued injustices. We demand action by the federal government now.”
U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia remarked, “We feel the pain, we feel the hurt of the people of Baton Rouge, Minnesota and Dallas across the country. Whatever we do we must do it in an orderly, peaceful and non-violent fashion.”
Rev. Jerry Young, president of the National Baptist Convention said, “Once again our nation is faced with the reality of senseless shootings: Mr. Philando Castile in St. Paul, Minnesota, Mr. Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and five police officers in Dallas, Texas. With the tragic and devastating news of these recent killings, along with the seven others who were injured in Dallas, we are reminded that violence and retaliation are never the solution to our frustration and anger. Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are extended to the family of each victim.
“May all know that we are resolved as spiritual leaders in this nation to do whatever we can do to help bring America together. May the wisdom of Martin Luther King Jr. provide us the needed encouragement today King said, “Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Now is the time to come together in love and unity, praying for America.”
Young continued, “To that end, I am encouraging all of our National Baptist churches on Sunday morning to have a time of serious prayer, that God will give us guidance and wisdom as we seek to become catalysts to the process of healing our country. As ambassadors of Christ, we must exercise the power we have within us by bathing all of our efforts in prayer, knowing that more things are wrought through prayer than the average person can ever imagine. I ask that National Baptists, throughout our country, unite in prayer, praying that God will somehow allow each of us to recognize the value of every life; that God will give us a revival that reminds and empowers those in authority to recognize the importance of the tenor and tone of what is put in the public square; that God will help those in leadership and authority as well as each of us to refrain from rhetoric that fans the flame of divisiveness among us; and that He instills within each of us a fervent desire to humble ourselves and pray, to seek His face and turn from our wicked ways so that He can heal our land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
President Barack Obama speaking at the memorial service in Dallas, Texas said, “I understand how Americans are feeling. But Dallas, I’m here to say we must reject such despair. I’m here to insist that we are not as divided as we seem. And I know that because I know America. I know how far we’ve come against impossible odds.”