MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – An interfaith news conference was held Tuesday morning in Miami Gardens as religious and community leaders called for justice, peace and unity following the death of George Floyd.
The news conference, which included leaders from the Christian and Islamic communities, as well as leaders from the city of Miami Gardens and Broward County Public Schools, was held outside the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church.
"Standing here is not just 30 clergy members from around Dade and Broward County. Standing here are thousands upon thousands upon thousands of folks, and we believe there’s enough evidence, there’s enough probable cause, for an arrest of all persons involved,” Pastor Arthur Jackson said.
Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert was also among those who spoke at the news conference.
“You know, it’s outrageous but we’ve been here before. We’ve been here before,” the mayor said. “The question isn’t just whether we’re outraged and whether the actions were outrageous, but what we do next. How do we actually evolve the conversation? How do we transition into the idea that everybody has a right to do things, like walk and breathe and live, without implicit bias, without being killed with a knee on the back of your neck for 8 minutes and 45 seconds?”
Gilbert stressed the importance that more action be taken to ensure that something like Floyd’s death does not happen again in this country. He said it’s not just about protesting for a couple weeks, allowing the story to fade away and to be back in the same place in six months or a year.
“We ought not to be back in this place again,” he said. “Because while I understand that you cannot change laws, or consciousness or remove hate from people’s heart overnight, it’s been 401 years. So the idea that my son should have the same rights that your son has, not to be killed, it’s not a new idea.”
Gilbert also stressed that the country should not be distracted from the main subject at hand by the looting that has occurred during some protests, and acknowledged that there have been peaceful protests, as well, including on Sunday in Miami Gardens.
“Every single thing – you can draw a line all the way back to slavery. So when you talk about police brutality, it’s law enforcement that helped keep black people in slavery,” Pastor Wayne Lomax said. “We can’t change it unless something happens in the hearts of white people. And white people are outraged. Many are outraged today because they saw what was on the video camera. We’ve been outraged since 1619.”
Religious leaders are calling for protesters to remain peaceful while demanding justice for not only Floyd, but countless others.
“With all the many great things this country has done, clearly, we have the capacity to make the necessary changes to create, as our founding fathers wrote, ‘a more perfect union.’ We are calling for peace,” a news release from the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church read.
Gilbert said those who believe this is a “black issue” are misinformed.
“This is a people issue," the mayor said. "This is a humanity issue.”