Police officers nationwide pray, kneel with protesters: ‘A sign of hope in America’

New York City police officers join Pastor Garelle K. Solomon (Purple Scarf) and The Excelling Church in protest on May 31, 2020.
New York City police officers join Pastor Garelle K. Solomon (Purple Scarf) and The Excelling Church in protest on May 31, 2020. | Photo: Dr. Te Bassett

Police and sheriff's officials across the country kneeled in solidarity with protesters last weekend as thousands of demonstrators across the United States took to the streets to protest the death of George Floyd, who died in the custody of Minneapolis police on Memorial Day.

Although scenes of violent riots and looting have permeated cities throughout America, the last few days have also united people together in prayer and peace.

Days after the death of Floyd, Art Acevedo, the police chief in Floyd’s hometown of Houston, Texas, said what Floyd went through should be "condemned by all in law enforcement and our extended community."

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"His death serves as a stark reminder that when bad policing happens, it disproportionately impacts communities of color and poor communities," Acevedo wrote on Twitter. 

On Saturday, police chiefs across Miami-Dade County in Florida knelt in prayer with protesters in Coral Gables, Florida, near Miami.

"This was a good first step in the right direction. It was a touching moment," a spokesman for Miami-Dade police told NBC Miami.

Pastor Joanne Hoehne of The Source Church wrote on Facebook that “police officers knelt and confessed they needed to do better.” According to Hoehne, “people began crying and praying together.”

In New York City, just hours after violent protests led to hundreds of arrests, city police officers joined a church in Queens and demonstrators in Manhattan by taking a knee beside protesters on Sunday.

Videos posted online show NYPD officers, including white-shirt officers, kneeling in the streets of Jamaica, Queens as members of The Excelling Church prayed and held a moment of silence. 

The cops bowed their heads and joined in on a reading of the names of black men and women who have died at the hands of police.

Pastor of The Excelling Church Garelle K. Solomon, who led the protest with the hashtag “#codeblack,” told his congregants they needed to take to the streets and “put our faith into action” as they “peacefully make our voices heard!” 

“The solitary knee of a police officer in America is a sign of hope in America,” Solomon told The Christian Post on Monday. “God is still able!”

Protesters were also seen shaking hands and hugging the officers.

Later that evening, thousands of demonstrators gathered in Foley Square in Lower Manhattan. There, a few other cops knelt in solidarity as seen in a video posted to social media.

In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, community members gathered in prayer at The Elevated Church with the support of Baton Rouge Police.

“We need prayer now more than ever before, even before this incident,” said Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul to local news outlet WAFB.

The chief attended the vigil as a way to show support as people of all races prayed for peace.

"We’re keeping the community lifted up in prayer. We’re keeping officers lifted up in prayer. We do understand and recognize that there is hurt out there, that there is pain, and I understand it,” Paul maintained. “It’s important for us to listen, and actively listen about what’s going on in America and take a look at ourselves and agencies in law enforcement and ask ourselves what are we doing to make sure that an incident like that doesn’t happen.”

In Flint Township, Michigan, the sheriff of Genesee County, Chris Swanson, displayed unity with the people as he took off his helmet and laid down his baton to address the crowd.

"We want to be with [you all] for real," Swanson told the crowd in a video published by NBC affiliate WEYI, adding: "I want to make this a parade, not a protest. ... You just tell what you need to do."

The crowd asked Swanson to walk with them. Swanson waved his arm and said, "Let's walk," as he joined them.

Police Chief Andy Mills joined Mayor Justin Cummings in taking a knee in Santa Cruz, along the Central Coast of California on Saturday. The Santa Cruz police department released a statement explaining that Mills knelt to demonstrate unity with protesters and to bring "attention to police violence against Black people."

According to NBC affiliate WOWT of Omaha, Nebraska, police and protesters locked arms Sunday afternoon near police headquarters in Bellevue. 

In contrast to the many fires and lootings shown in the media brought on by angry protesters, there have also been gatherings of which people have joined together in prayer and repentance.

A large number of Christians gathered at the site of George Floyd’s death to usher in the presence of God in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

A pastor on location reported

“At the site of GEORGE FLOYD’S murder scene, they preached unity, love, and repentance. People brought food, and many came to love on and minister to the community. Then the people got in their knees, forgave one another, and gave their lives to Jesus!!”

Another video circulating online showed hundreds of people praying together for help and peace.

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