April 29, 2018; CBS Local San Francisco
In an extraordinary move, on Sunday, a group of church leaders in Oakland, California rallied to advise residents of the city to abstain from calling the police.
Oakland, of course, has traditionally had problems with police violence and was the home base of the Black Panther Party, started now a half-century ago.
Lynice Pinkard, a former pastor and member of First Congregational Church of Oakland, says, “We stand up with integrity and say we’re not going to be a part of the police violence system.” She told the crowd, “In this constant and current imperial structure, all safety is an illusion.”
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“As a faith community that loves one another,” said Nichola Torbett, a leader at First Congregational, “we don’t feel that we can continue to support a system that harms people that we love. We’ve had people surveilled, targeted, followed, harassed.”
Torbett says her church is one of a group working to find community alternatives to the police.
Oakland Deputy Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong is supportive of the effort. He told KPIX 5, “If the goal is really to have a safe community, I think we can do it together and not separate.” However, he advised, “When there is an emergency…it’s appropriate to call the police and allow us to respond.”
In fact, no one yet knows what form the effort will take—but, as Torbett observes, “We don’t know until we try, you know. We’re about faith, and our faith is in things unseen.”—Ruth McCambridge