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Current Page: Church & Ministries | Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Evangelical Pastors Blast Florida Cops Using African-American Mugshots for Sniper Practice With #UseMeInstead Campaign

Evangelical Pastors Blast Florida Cops Using African-American Mugshots for Sniper Practice With #UseMeInstead Campaign

Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow posted this photo to his Twitter account in support of the #UseMeInstead movement. | (Photo: Twitter/Bruce Reyes-Chow)

After the North Miami Beach police department was discovered to have been using mug shots of African Americans for practice at a firing range, several members of clergy from around the world decided to take action and started a movement with their images and the phrase #UseMeInstead.

Rev. Joy M. Gonnerman and other pastors from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Facebook group discussed how to respond and what they could do to encourage change.

"Maybe we ought to make it harder to pull the trigger, and volunteer to put pictures of their family up," Gonnerman suggested.

While the group did not take that route, they did decide to create a Facebook event where they posted photos of themselves with targets on their foreheads wearing their clerical robes. They tagged the photos using the phrase #UseMeInstead. The group's event reached around the world and across denominations.

One pastor, Bruce Reyes-Chow, wanted to participate as "an additional way to make a public statement about the ways in which police treat and perceive the African American community," he told The Christian Post.

"I understand that it can be about centering around non-African American experiences, but I also think multiple tactics are needed to sustain movements for change. We all have a role to play: academic, activist, mediator and poet, and we all must play our role, take actions, reflect and press on," Reyes-Chow added.

Even though many have called for the police chief to resign, Chief J. Scott Dennis has said he is going nowhere and his agency did nothing wrong.

"Our policies were not violated," he told NBC News Channel 6. "There is no discipline forthcoming from the individuals regarding this. We utilize an array of pictures. We have an array for black males. We have an array for white and Hispanic males," he explained.

Gonnerman plans to add to that array by mailing a stack of 66 photos of clergy members to the department.

The decision was "motivated by our service to Christ and His call to love our neighbors," she told the Washington Post.

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