Brooklyn faith leaders call for justice, police reform and end to racism

Clergy leading prayer at "Let Me Breathe Rally" in Brooklyn.
Pastor Gilford T. Monrose

The faith community in Brooklyn last Sunday joined calls for justice, police reform and end to all forms of racism at a “Let Me Breathe” March and Prayer Rally.

The event was organized by pastors of churches in Flatbush and East Flatbush, as well as community leaders, in solidarity and support of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless others whose lives were lost by police.

As protestors marched from Church and Utica avenues to the steps of Grace Deliverance Tabernacle, at 650 Remsen Ave., in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn, echoes of the united calls could be heard through the streets of Brooklyn.

Along the route, male and female clergy, of various ages and races, led the crowd with prayers, declarations and chants of “A people united will never be defeated,” “No Justice No Peace,” “Enough is enough” and “Black Lives Matter.”

Elected officials and election candidates of the East Flatbush community were on hand, including Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke; City Comptroller Scott Stringer; Council Members Farah Louis and Alicka Samuel; Assembly Members Nick Perry and Latrice Walker; and District Leader Corey Provost.

Organizers said the march was also well-supported by youths of the community.

A section of the “Let Me Breathe” march in Brooklyn.                                                             Pastor Gilford T. Monrose

Their voices were heard through two youths of East Flatbush Village, who passionately addressed the rally.

The Blue Angels Drumline is another youth group that participated and helped to keep protestors in step with rhythmic beats throughout the march.

During his address to the fired-up rally, Bishop Orlando Findlayter, a member of the organizing group, charged elected officials to: “Go back to Washington, go back to Albany, go back to City Hall and make some changes.

“Criminals in blue jeans or blue uniforms should go to jail,” he said. “Chokeholds should be illegal across the State of New York and the United States of America.

“If you call 911 falsely on anyone, it should be made a hate crime,” Bishop Findlayter added. “Part of our problem is that the police is responsible for policing the police.

“We are saying to our Legislature we want legislation to make the Attorney General a special prosecutor to investigate all police involved killings, because no one can police themselves,” he continued.

Findlayter also appealed to the crowd: “Besides marching, complete the Census, so we can get the representation and resources we need for our community, and vote.”

Recently, the 67th Police Precinct Clergy Council, otherwise known as the GodSquad, announced its #SafeSummer2020 Campaign.

Pastor Gilrose Monrose, another member of the organizing group and chair of the GodSquad, said the GodSquad – in conjunction with local precincts, CMS service providers, clergy councils, faith-based organizations and elected officials – plans to implement a “comprehensive, community plan” to help decrease the involvement of young people in street groups, crime and gun violence over the next three months and provide the necessary resources to help reduce gun violence in Brooklyn and beyond.

Monrose, who hails from the US Virgin Islands and whose parents are from St. Lucia, said the plan will include employment for young men from the Flatbush Leadership Academy (FLA) program to help assist with the Social Distancing Engagement that will target youths in the city.

The GodSquad has called on other organizations and elected officials to join the effort to provide summer employment for 900 youths for 90 days throughout the summer and actively seek funding sources to create opportunities for them, Monrose said.

Besides Monrose and Findlayter, the planning team for the “Let Me Breathe” March and Rally comprised: The Rev. Charles Galbreath, Bishop Mervin Harding, the Rev. Terry Lee, Bishop R.C. Hugh Nelson, Pastor Louis Straker and Monique Chandler-Waterman of East Flatbush Village.

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