ABOVE PHOTO: Michael Brown (AP photo)
Rev. Terrence D. Griffith, the President of the Black Clergy of Philadelphia & Vicinity, and the Pastor of the First African Baptist Church of Philadelphia, released this statement on the unrest and violence in Ferguson, Missouri, after the killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. “As responsible citizens we not only respect the rule of law, but understand that process is important when investigating and prosecuting issues of law. However, we do not think the process nor the outcome of that process was fair and consistent with past practices of normal grand jury procedures in Ferguson Missouri. The outcome of this Jury’s decision in fact continues to perpetuate an atmosphere of apparent disregard for and attack upon this nation’s African American male population, both young and old.”
“The shooting deaths of unarmed black males by armed police officers has escalated to an alarming rate and continues to erode trust between this nation’s law enforcement agencies and the African American community,” Griffith continued. We strongly condemn these actions against black males and support peaceful demonstrations and changes in police practices that will curtail what we view as a reckless disrespect for human life. We also condemn members of our own community who demonstrate the same level of disrespect for the dignity of human life. It is our belief that if nothing happens at every level of Government to address inequitable policing procedures in a tangible way, what we’ve seen in the aftermath of the Ferguson decision will only lead to a more dangerous and heightened distrust between the African American community and Law Enforcement in this country.
Therefore, we as the Black Clergy of Philadelphia & Vicinity call for the following actions:
1) We ask the Federal Government to expedite its investigation into potential civil violations against Mr. Brown by the Ferguson police department.
2) On December 8th, we are calling for a city wide day of conversation regarding disparate policing practices in the African American community.
3) To draft specific future actions from these meetings which will not only speak to the Ferguson Decision but to this national trend of the continuing shootings of African American males by the police agencies around this nation and the black on black violence which we strongly condemn.
“It is our belief that these actions are absolutely needed to move forward in the healing process of the murder of Michael Brown and countless other black boys and men, in America, when it was totally unwarranted,” Rev. Terrence Griffith.
The Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity is made up of more than 400 pastors.. This year marks the 33 anniversay of the organization.