Several Philadelphia clergy members are among the demonstrators in Ferguson, Missouri, calling for peace in a highly volatile situation.
The St. Louis suburb has drawn national attention since this month’s fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager — by a white police officer.
Ferguson’s far away, but many say it’s relevant to life in Philadelphia.
“It’s a clarion call for all of our communities that, at any moment, any of our communities can be a Ferguson,” said Kim Kendrick, an associate pastor at Living Water United Church of Christ in Oxford Circle. “It’s an injustice where a black teen can be gunned down unfairly, unjustly, and can have his character assassinated as justification to the killing.”
Kendrick is a member of POWER, a group that represents congregations from across Pennsylvania.
“POWER has sent a contingent to Ferguson to serve as leadership on the ground in solidarity with people in Ferguson — that would be clergy and other supporters to seek answers toward peace a justice,” she said.
The Rev. Leslie Callahan, pastor of St. Paul’s Baptist Church in North Philadelphia, traveled to Ferguson, motivated by news accounts from the scene.
“What the armor and the tanks and the riot gear and the tear gas being used against peaceful protesters and demonstrators, concerned citizens in Ferguson … what it suggests about how law enforcement thinks about policing, I think, is a danger not only to the people of Ferguson, but it’s also a danger to folks who live in Philadelphia.”
The events in Ferguson should be of concern to Philadelphians, Callahan said.
“We are the United States of America, and we are all connected to one another,” she said. “What is happening in Ferguson is absolutely of concern to those of us who live in Philadelphia.”
Callahan was joined in Ferguson by clergy from Germantown Baptist Church, Living Water United Church of Christ, Grace Christian Fellowship in Southwest Philadelphia, and Mother Bethel AME Church in Center City.
About 100 people turned out for a POWER vigil this week in Oxford Circle to pray for peace in Ferguson and for the safety of Philadelphia clergy visiting there.