Press Release…Faith Leaders to Host Two Public Forums

Faith Leaders to Host Two Public Forums
Addressing Issues of Policing and Racial Justice in Washtenaw County
May 23 in Ann Arbor and June 2 in Ypsilanti. Public Invited.

Ann Arbor & Ypsilanti, MI— Faith Leaders Forum, a group of Washtenaw County faith leaders who have come together to proactively address the issue of police and community interactions, will host two public forums to build community support and understanding of this issue. On Monday evening May 23rd at 7pm, the group will meet at Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor, 2275 Platt Rd, AA 48104, and on Thursday evening, June 2nd at 7pm at Brown Chapel AME Church, 1043 W. Michigan Ave, Ypsilanti MI 48198.

After a number of nation-wide, high profile cases of excessive, and even deadly, force used by police officers against unarmed civilians (especially people of color), local faith leaders began to meet last July to discuss how best to address cases of excessive force in Washtenaw County. Those meetings led to the development of Faith Leaders Forum (FLF) and their Statement on Policing and Racial Justice (attached), endorsed by more than 50 leaders of local churches and synagogues.

According to the FLF Purpose Statement: Our mission is to establish a county wide, interfaith advocacy effort with a faith-inspired platform that fosters mutual respect and effectiveness as we mobilize and speak up for justice and equality. We will work together in a manner that reflects our faith in the God of peace and justice; we commit to the following:

  • We will speak and act with respect, compassion and acceptance;
  • We will use actions and words that will both facilitate understanding and resist violence and oppression;
  • We will not use or instigate violence of any kind against any person or group, and
  • We will promote safety and respect for life through our actions and interactions.

While communities of color have been raising these issues for years, it wasn’t until the public was able to see one incident after another captured on video that people felt the urgency to act. Law enforcement is a difficult and potentially dangerous task, particularly in a society that has extreme racial and economic disparities. FLF is concerned for both law enforcement officers and civilians and believes that developing life-affirming practices and guidelines will do the most to promote the wellbeing of all.

According to Rev. Jeffery Harrold, Pastor of New Beginnings Community Church of Washtenaw County/ located in Pittsfield Township, “What motivated us to begin this process was our understanding that as faith leaders God calls us to take a stand against injustice and to defend the cause of those who are victims of oppression. The repeated revelations of the killing of and use of force against people of color led us to organize in order to make sure that protocol, practices, and procedures are in place in our county police agencies to insure that the rights and lives of civilians are protected and respected.”

To quote Pastor Denese Brown of Faith Assembly Church in Ypsilanti, “As faith leaders, we believe that life should be valued, affirmed and protected. And it’s our duty to participate in defending the rights of civilians to live free from the fear of and implicit bias by our criminal justice system.”

Participants in the forums include representatives of local law enforcement agencies, community and faith leaders. The forums are open to the public.

For more information
Contact: Rev. Jeffrey Harrold

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