This Sunday, June 14 at 4:30pm, The Summit Interfaith Council is sponsoring a virtual protest and rally with an in-person funeral procession through the streets of Summit to call attention to police brutality and extra-judicial killing of black and brown bodies.
The Rev. Vernon Williams of Fountain Baptist Church in Summit, who is also the Vice President of the Summit Interfaith Council, spoke with WBGO News Director Doug Doyle about Sunday's event.
"At Fountain, obviously we share with our brothers and sisters of color, the anger and outrage of yet another senseless killing, the open lynching of a person of color. We are at a point of saying we can be silent no more. Yes, we may have been trying to fight against racism, but now we've got to be more vigilant and more vocal and more present within the community in order to eradicate this cancer of racism that continues to persist in the nation and indeed in our community."
Rev. Williams says people can view Sunday's protest and rally on the Summit Interfaith Council's Facebook page.
"One of the things that we are aware of, especially for our congregation which is a slightly older congregation, we know if we host our event they will come out and they will do their best at social distancing. So to insure that we don't place them in an adverse position we've decided to do it as a virtual rally in protest for about 30 to 40 minutes. And then we would invite everyone to remain in their cars and invite them to drive through the streets of Summit to show our memorialization of those who've been killed and our disgust and disdain with what has happened. We are going to calling folks to action. So will give them two or three action items to leave with."
Participants are being asked to gather in advance of the event at the Summit High School parking lot.
Rev. Williams says the murder of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis brought back painful memories of the times he has been the victim of racial profiling by police, including when he was a teenager.
"We're angry and we want to take action and retrobution at this time. Obviously as a person of color who has been racially profiled, it's hard to deny that anger. However, as a man of faith and one who believes in the principles of Christ, we try to redirect that anger into righteous indignation. Not that we're asking them (congregation) to be passive and do nothing but to be passive in radically fighting against what we are experiencing. Now we're not saying we'll be silent and to just get along but that we must upset the apple cart. It is imperative that our righteous fight is the right way to go. And whoever is upset, so be it. It has to be because as black and brown bodies we are hurting, we are being destroyed and we can no longer allow that to go unchallenged."
The Summit Interfaith Council is made up of 15 houses of worship. The President of the Council is Rabbi Hannah Orden of Congregation Beth Hatikvah. This is the third year the Summit Interfaith Council through its Anti-Racism Committee is providing a professional (safe space) anti-racism and bias training for teens called STAR (Strong Teens Against Racism). STAR uses the consultants ROOTS (Rising Over Oppression Through Solidarity).
To hear the entire conversation, which includes Rev. Williams talking about being racially profiled by police as he was headed to a community college in Jennings, Missouri, click the audio tab at the top of the page.