Unity March #ReclaimMLK 2015
Organizers around the country hosted events as part of a "Day of Resilience" during the weekend of resistance surrounding the celebration of Dr. King's birthday. Our friend Raquita from Pinxit Studios covered the action that we sponsored along with local churches New City Fellowship- South and South City Church. Faith for Justice gathered with dozens of local faith communities Sunday, January 18th to march from the Shaw neighborhood to Tower Grove South, down South Grand Blvd. Many people from various faith traditions and a number from non-believing traditions walked arm in arm in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, proclaiming that all people are made in the image of God. We held the intersection at Grand and Arsenal in remembrance of the interaction between activists and police on the evening of Monday November 24th, 2014, after the return of "no bill" indicating there would be no indictment of Ofc. Darren Wilson in the case of the altercation and resulting killing of unarmed teenager Mike Brown.
Safe and sacred spaces, designated by clergy and approved by police and local officials were invaded that evening into the early morning, with no warning and no reason. Tear gas and other chemicals were deployed on a peacefully protesting, self-policing crowd. Faith for Justice members and their friends were caught in the ensuing chaos. The southside pulled together, however, by painting over boarded up shop windows, hosting ongoing conversations and continuing to pursue restored relationships. We also made great efforts to bring an injunction on the police departments responsible for breaching sacred spaces, an action that law enforcement officials had covenanted that they would not take.
The Unity march was a sweeping display of the harmonized demand for justice on behalf of the people murdered by police, and justice for those harmed in the process of exerting their first amendment rights, and it was also an embodied prayer, symbolic of the healing that communities of faith have claimed for the south side neighborhoods and the Saint Louis region.
Craig Scandrett Leatherman, a founding member and leader of Faith for Justice, concluded the march and opened the adjoining teach-in with this explanation and exhortation:
This is called a Unity March: Why are we marching? How are we Unified?
1) We are marching because the Bible tells us again and again that God hears the cry of the poor and oppressed; communities are grieving and crying out for justice by marching so we want to tune our ears to what God hears by being with them. So we are marching to tune our ears to hear the cries that God hears.
Why are we marching? To tune our ears to the cries of the oppressed?
2) How are we unified? We are unified in seeking God's justice. We have more than an inkling that young black men are too often targeted by police, unusually harassed, and disproportionately imprisoned. So we are unified in praying for God's will to be done on earth; we know that God's will includes justice and so we are seeking it especially with and for our black and brown, and our poor and oppressed brothers and sisters. So we are unifed in seeking justice.
How are we unified? We are unified in seeking justice
3) Finally, we are united and marching because bridges need to be crossed. Motivated by deep abiding love we are marching over the bridges that divide our city and nation. So our unity marches may disrupt the normal flow of markets in order to prioritize people, black people and God's prevailing justice.
Why do we sometimes disrupt? Because Black Lives Matter! Keep marching to hear as God hears and to seek the justice that God seeks
photographs by Raquita Henderson of Pinxit Photo