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Group calls DOJ ‘impotent’ for failing to protect Black churches

26th October 2015   ·   0 Comments

The National Black Church Initiative (NBCI), a faith-based coalition of 34,000 churches comprised of 15 denominations and 15.7 million African Americans said last week that it is saddened to see a lackluster approach in addressing the plethora of church burnings and the systematically attack against African Americans in general and Black youth in particular.

“Simply put, does the Obama Administration care about Black people?” NBCI said in a prepared statement. “Their actions or, rather inactions, seem to be in hurry or demonstrative of an imperative when it comes to Black people. Their actions or, rather inactions, seems to suggest that we should just take it (injustice) and wait on the impotent Justice Department to act. But we cannot and we will not wait. The urgency of now is upon us and we demand action to protect all us from these racist attacks. By the way, we are Americans too.”

The NCBI said that there have been about 20 Black churches burned down since the tragedy in Charleston this summer that left nine Black people dead at Mother Evangel A.M.E. Church.

“What is the Justice Department doing?” the group asked. “Why have they not sounded the alarm? President Obama and his liberal advisers are scared to let the administration deal with the real issues and root causes of white supremacy. The President himself has repeatedly blamed the victims of this society and not the racists who perpetuate hate. The Justice Department has not charged any white police officers to date of violating the civil rights of any of the Black victims….and in some cases they had two years to investigate. Shall we do a roll call on the number of race-centered cases facing the Black community.”

To illustrate their point, the NCBI pointed to the following cases:

• George Zimmerman was not charged for violating the civil rights of Tryvon Martin.

• Dylann Roof was not charged as a domestic terrorist of killing nine African Americans in cold blood.

• NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo was never charged for the choking to death and nor charges for violating the civil rights of Eric Garner.

• Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson who shot and killed Michael Brown was neither charged for murder or for violating his civil rights

The group said there are literally hundreds of other examples of police and white supremacists killing unarmed Black men, women and children in cities across the U.S. including Baltimore, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Prairie View, Texas, Milwaukee, Wisconsin and New Orleans, La.

“We are baffled as to the approach of the administration and their hesitancy related to the pursuit of these crimes,” the Rev. Anthony Evans, NCBI’s president, said last week. “It seems to us their approach is not working to stop the church burning. It seems to us their approach is not working to solve these recurring and rendered meaningless crimes. Our own federal government seems impotent in the face of these racial fontal attacks against both the Black Church and our entire community. Simply put, we do not feel safe!”

The group added that the DOJ has completely ignored a letter sent to them on June 22, 2015 signed by the leaders of 500 Black churches.

“What remains is an imperative need for the government to be responsive to our concerns in the Black community for the sake of the American society,” the group said. “Following below are the components of the comprehensive faith-based safety program of church parishioners again, for which the National Black Church Initiative and 15 religious denominations propose to address these issues in a strategic, yet relevant manner:

• Technical Assistance and Training

We plan to immediately train 25 of our congregants, mainly males in basic safety, security techniques and strategies to vanguard against any immediate threat. We have a draft protocol of training and measures to be put in place to safeguard our member congregations. One of the critical elements of this technical assistance and training is that we are asking congregations to reach out to their local law enforcement agencies and to create a safety plan for their faith community. There remains a need to understand those elements needed to implement this type of collaborative task. We have adopted an initiative, “No Activities Without Security.” A minimum of three (3) security persons is to be present at all faith-based activities while children and women’s activities are to be assigned six security persons. This is a part of our 90-day plan before we are able to formally incorporate the core elements, which we are now setting forth.

• Educational Seminars

Educational seminars around the country and within each of the regions are particularly important toward ensuring, as many people are aware of this important plan to educate individuals about safety for parishioners. We will need the support of the aforementioned agencies (i.e. Department of Homeland Security, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) along with the Department of Justice to help us create a seminar that covers all of the necessary safety elements on how to safeguard a group of people during the worship experience and other related church activities such as Bible study on a weekday night. This particular seminar will need to be completed at least 12 times in every region of the country within the next six months. This particular seminar will need to be taken within the next six weeks.

• Safety Manual

Having a safety manual is important toward providing guidelines for how people are to conduct themselves in times of crisis. Unfortunately, many of our congregations are unable to secure a paid security apparatus to safeguard them. The manual has to speak directly to the short-term and long-term needs of what congregations need to do toward enhancing overall security of the church and parishioners. The manual needs to also be inclusive of key community-based organizations and related personnel, emergency phone numbers and websites. The uniqueness of this manual is its transferability as it can be adapted to every city or geographic area or any other religious affiliations in the country so that the information is relevant to that particular entity. The safety manuals will be placed on a website for the public to view. Thus, we are seeking assistance in generating a “how to” safety manual for faith-based parishioners.

• Companion Website

We need to create a website to serve as a “one stop safety net.” This website will consist of written, video, graphics and other elements. The website will contain information on technical assistance and training, education, the safety manuals, and other key resources being offered by city, county, state and federal law enforcement authorities. The website will be updated on a daily basis and will send out emergency alerts and other relevant information pertaining to the faith-based community. Thus, we seek support from you toward ensuring the viability of this website in serving as an important tool for ensuring the safety of our parishioners.

• Paid Security Apparatus

As we know, some churches will have sufficient resources to hire their own security guards. The vast majority of our churches, however, will not be able to afford them. Depending upon the size of the respective church, there are also unique issues regarding the preparedness and capacity of the security personnel to be responsive to the needs at hand. Thus, we need technical assistance for effectively hiring security personnel for faith communities and the necessary criteria. Issues regarding liability and whether or not the church should hire armed or unarmed guards become critically important points for consideration. Since we are trying to minimize guns in our faith community, we presently have a policy banning any form of firearms in our congregations from parishioners or security personnel. Yet, with the resurgence of violence throughout the country and more recently with the Charleston tragedy, this is an issue that we must revisit. Along with the input from our coalition membership, we will need adequate consultation from federal or state officials and support in developing alternative or modifying current plans.

• Innovative Safety Technologies

Technology is important toward delivery messages in an efficient, effective manner. Up-to-date technology offers more innovative features to ensure safety is achieved at the highest level. We need support from you in identifying the proper and doable safety technologies that churches should consider in safeguarding its environment. There is also a need to understand the pros and cons of the use of technology and subsequent issues around privacy as well as legal and liability issue concerning the proper use of technology in faith based communities. The level of expertise that you might be able to provide for us and the constituents we serve would be paramount.

• Grant Assistance Program

Grant assisted programs offer access to earmarked resources for improving the outcomes of targeted issues. Because of the urgency of putting safety measures in place, many congregations will not be able to meet the escalating expense. Many security experts have concluded this new expenditure could constitute over 20 percent of the church budget. Therefore, we are requesting that a grant program be established for faith-based communities to enhance the safety of not only the church and its members, but also for the community in which that church is located. For instance, the church may ask for a grant to expand its video surveillance capabilities from all geographic points, thus covering that particular community from every angle. This in turn will enhance the entire community capability of mitigating criminal activities and promoting prevention. The range of the grants is proposed to be $10,000 to $25,000. Having a grant assistance program made available to our 34,000 constituents would be significant. With your support, this would allow those congregations to assume their own responsible in ensuring the safety of their churches.

The National Black Church Initiative is a coalition of 34,000 African-American and Latino churches working to eradicate racial disparities in healthcare, technology, education, housing, and the environment. NBCI’s mission is to provide critical wellness information to all of its members, congregants, churches and the public. Our methodology is utilizing faith and sound health science.

NBCI’s purpose is to partner with major organizations and officials whose main mission is to reduce racial disparities in the variety of areas cited above. NBCI offers faith-based, out-of-the-box and cutting edge solutions to stubborn economic and social issues. NBCI’s programs are governed by credible statistical analysis, science based strategies and techniques, and methods that work.

This article originally published in the October 26, 2015 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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