February 05, 2015

 

By Cora Jackson-Fossett 

LAWT Contributing Writer 

 

 

Community leaders throughout Southern California are rallying to join the Peace and Unity March set for Saturday, February 21, at 10 a.m.

 

The much-anticipated event, taking place on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X, begins on Martin Luther King Boulevard at Denker Avenue and ends at Leimert Park on Crenshaw Boulevard.

 

According to the Rev. Xavier L. Thompson, the march is the first step in an ongoing campaign to address and resolve a range of concerns affecting both the African American and Latino communities.

 

“We’re marching, number one, to bring unity among black and brown people, especially as it pertains to police brutality and racial inequality,” said Thompson, co-creator of the campaign along with Sentinel Executive Publisher Danny Bakewell, Sr.

 

“I am excited to partner with Mr. Bakewell in this movement.  I want to commend him for his passion, concern and his precision in understanding the pulse of the city in this time that we live in.  His leadership is invaluable to the citizens of this city, particularly the African American community,” he said. 

 

Clarifying the purpose of the event, Thompson explained, “We are marching for justice as it relates to those who are called to uphold the law and their dealings with those in our community who have been victims of, not righteous police officers, but rogue cops.”

 

Emphasizing his support for law enforcement, Thompson stressed, “We are not anti-police. We are anti-police brutality.  We love and support our police officers that are on the front line.  I am sensitive to the fact that they have a tough job and we uphold them.

 

“However, just like in every organization, including the church, there are a few bad apples in the barrel and we want to expose the bad apples for who they are and for where they are.  We are not against the law.  We uphold the law and we obey the law. We are against lawlessness,” he said.

 

Thompson, who serves as pastor of Southern Missionary Baptist Church and president of the Baptist Ministers Conference (BMC) of Los Angeles and Southern California, shared that BMC members as well as faith leaders, including Presiding Bishop Charles Blake of the Church of God in Christ, Inc.; Pastor J. Edgar Boyd of First A.M.E. Church of Los Angeles, Pastor Kelvin Sauls of Holman United Methodist Church and Minister Tony Muhammad of Nation of Islam’s Mosque 27, have endorsed the march.

 

Other key supporters are the Rev. Dr. J. Benjamin Hardwick, president of the Western Baptist State Convention and pastor of Praises of Zion Missionary Baptist Church; the Rev. Dr. E. Wayne Gaddis, president of the California Missionary Baptist State Convention and pastor of Greater True Light Missionary Baptist Church; and the Rev. E. Winford Bell, president of the Silver Lining of Hope Crusade and pastor of Mount Olive Second Missionary Baptist Church.

 

“This is not a doctrinal issue.  This is about us coming together. We understand that we all have duty we are called to fulfill.”

 

The concept of unity is critical, noted Thompson, because of the violence African Americans commit within their own communities.

 

“We are calling for unity because there is a lot more black-on-black crime than it is police officers shooting our babies. We’re calling for unity because it is time for black-on-black love. It is time that we stop killing our own and take responsibility,” he declared. 

 

While acknowledging that law enforcement, elected officials and policy makers must make changes in their interactions in the black community, Thompson also insisted that African Americans play a role in the process, too.

 

“We have much work to do among ourselves.  It starts with us.  We cannot rob, steal and kill and expect others to respect us when we do not respect ourselves.  We must have accountability on all ends,” he stated.

 

“I am calling for our black men and black women to put down their guns and pick up their books.  I am calling for our black men and black women to reclaim the Negro spirit of self-love, self-respect and self-dignity.  People say, ‘Hands up, don’t shoot!’  I’m saying, ‘Books open, don’t flunk!’ 

 

“I am calling for our black women to not have babies out of wedlock, but put themselves in a position to excel and succeed and positively contribute to the welfare of their well-being.  To our black men, I am calling for them to not make babies they do not take care of or not know where their child is. 

 

“Take policing of their children out of the police department’s hands and start policing their own child.  Get off Facebook and get in the textbook!”

 

Still, the peace aspect of the march is equally important because the demonstration will be an orderly protest to bring attention and begin actions that will effect change, said Thompson.

 

“We want all of this to be done in the context of the law.  I am not a ‘rabble-rouser.’  I am a man of peace, a man of prayer, and a man of God. I love our police and our politicians. 

 

“However, I am a prophet who has been called to speak truth to power.  If laws are being broken, if citizens are wrong, they pay a price.  If police are wrong, the pay a price also.  I want it to be an equal playing field.  I don’t want a set of rules for us and a different set of rules for them,” he said.

 

Thompson has shared this belief with LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and LA County Sheriff Jim McDonald and both committed to improve their departments’ relationship with the black community.

 

“I have met with them personally and I applaud their efforts to bring transparency and accountability.  However, we must hold their feet to the fire to see these reforms through,” Thompson added.

 

Extending an invitation to all people to attend, Thompson said, “Anybody can join this march. We are calling for everybody to participate who believes in justice and who believes that the police are not above the law, but must uphold the law, too.

 

“We believe, because of what Dr. King called ‘the fierce urgency of now,’ we have no other choice but to stand up and speak truth to power.”

Category: Community



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