As protest marches continue across the country, faith leaders in Brooklyn celebrated Father’s Day with a #LetMeBeathe March and Rally through the Flatbush community.
In solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and support for the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and others whose lives were lost by police, people of faith on June 21 joined their sons in letting their voices be heard.
According to organizers, the march, which began at Nostrand and Church avenues, travelled to Utica Avenue then onto Synder Avenue for a rally on the steps of Rugby Deliverance Tabernacle, 4901 Snyder Ave.
Along the way, pastors from various houses of worship, along with elected representatives for the Flatbush and East Flatbush Districts — namely Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, Assemblymember Diana Richardson and State Sen. Zelnor Myrie — led marchers with chants, prayers and declarations.
The rally at Rugby Deliverance Tabernacle featured members of the clergy and youths, organizers said.
In her emotional presentation, Chaplain Nicole Langlise shared that watching the video of 8 min. and 46 sec., with a white police officer kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, triggered memories of her disabled brother who was brutally beaten by police over 30 years ago after having a seizure.
“George Floyd’s death made me realize that we as a people are traumatized and we have been repressing our trauma,” Langlise said. “[But] no longer will we sit and suffer in silence! No longer will we watch our brothers and sisters and our children be disrespected in a country that was built on our backs!
“No longer will we ask for permission to breathe!” she added. “We are seeing firsthand that there’s power when we organize and come together as one. “This is our time! Let us embrace it. Let us unite and not grow weary in well-doing.”
Ten-year-old Prince Amar captivated the crowd in eloquently articulating the gamut of emotions he was experiencing.
“I am angry because when I sit in school, they teach me about racism as if it is in the past,” he said. “But how am I living it right now? I am angry because I am told all lives matter. But how, when all I see is my people being killed in the streets.
“I’m happy because I see my people coming together to fight for what’s right,” he added. “I’m even happier to see that there are some white people on our side and are fighting with us.
“I’m scared, because what if I’m the victim of a crime; but, then, a racist white cop shows up and thinks that I am the bad guy,” Amar continued. “Then, instead of helping me, he ends up hurting me. I know you are hurting. I am, too, because, instead of having to worry about simple kids’ problems like getting a pass in my tests, I have to worry about worse things like how I could end up in jail or dead because being Black is worse than the thing I did or did not do wrong.”
Other rally speakers and participants included: Archbishop Sidley Mullings; Bishops Mervin Harding and Orlando Findlayter; Pastors Donna Baptiste, Louis Straker, Jr., Wilmouth Seaton and Richard Edward Hinds; the Rev. Dr. Charles Galbreath; Min. John Williams; Chaplain Monique Waterman of East Flatbush Village; and Joshua Griffith of Flatbush Leadership Academy.
The Father’s Day #LetMeBreathe March and Rally was organized by Bishop Findlayter; Rev. Galbreath; Bishops Harding and R.C. Nelson; Rev. Terry Lee; Pastors Gil Monrose and Straker, Jr.; and Chaplains Langlise and Monique Chandler-Waterman.