MIAMI – Miami-Dade Chief Assistant State Attorney Don Horn took to the podium on Sunday to sing “Lean On Me” at Bayfront Park in downtown Miami. Florida Department of Law Enforcement Miami Special Agent in Charge Troy Walker was among the hundreds who sang with him.
Horn and Walker are both Deacons at the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Miami Gardens, one of the dozens of Miami-Dade County churches that took part in a prayer march from the Torch of Friendship to the Miami-Dade Children’s Courthouse.
Rev. Arthur Jackson, of the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, said he and members of his church showed solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement because they were inspired by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech on Feb. 6, 1968 in Washington, D.C.
There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.
As one of the organizers of the march, Rev. Carl Johnson, of the 93rd Street Baptist Chuch in West Little River, welcomed the leaders of mosques, temples and other Christian churches, including a Roman Catholic priest. There were also members of the Islamic Center of Greater Miami and members of Temple Beth Am.
Critics of the judicial system and defense attorneys marched alongside police officers and prosecutors. There was a Mexican-American social worker who said she is agnostic and a Cuban-American teacher who is a Buddhist.
“I believe standing together with people of different ethnic backgrounds, beliefs, biases -- and even baggage -- is the right thing to do,” Jackson said. “It is my hope that our demonstration of oneness would become contagious.”
Tangela Sears, the founder of Florida Parents of Murdered Children, has been advocating for the families of victims of gun violence. The majority of the members of her organization are African-American families. Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle marched nearby.
“Just as our community has grown, advanced and changed, justice, true justice, must also be an evolving process,” Fernandez Rundle said in a statement on Monday. “While we are bound to follow the laws created by our legislators, yesterday’s all-faith prayer-walk showed that we can and must join our voices and our spirits together to chart new paths and better pathways. Our community truly wants and needs this.”
Fernandez Rundle and Sears were marching near Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, 17, whose death at the hands of an armed neighborhood watchman motivated the beginnings of the BLM movement. Fulton is running for a Miami-Dade County commission seat.
“It hurts to receive all this hate. We are not all racists,” said a Miami police officer who asked not to be named. “It wasn’t about politics. We don’t want to get into it. We stay out of it and it was great to be there with my wife and, you know, we didn’t wear our uniforms, and it was peaceful ... It was great not to have to worry about any of that and still stand in solidarity.”
Hialeah, Miami Shores and Miami Gardens police officers were also in the crowd singing, marching and praying.
“Some are hurting because racism is still very real,” a Miami-Dade officer said. “Cross the railroad in Miami. It’s a different world for those kids. We need more African American police officers who come from those communities.”
Rev. Marcel Sanchez, of the Global Church in Miami Gardens, said he and other members of his church decided to participate in the prayer march because he believes there is power in unity.
“I hope our community learns that we are called to love one another by carrying the burdens of our neighbors,” Sanchez said. “I hope we learn to listen with compassion and respond in loving action.”
Members of the Christ Journey Church in Coral Gables and the Miami Vineyard Community Church near Kendall distributed about 3,000 bottles of water to demonstrators. Miami-Dade State Attorney Chief of Legal Unit Christine Zahralban, a long-time member of Christ Journey and one of the women’s ministry leaders, said she is grateful the event went on smoothly.
“We prayed to stop the injustices of racism," Zahralban said. “We prayed for true and lasting change, and for healing, restoration and reconciliation.”
Other churches involved included the Trinity Church, the John Institutional Missionary Baptist Church, the Community Christian Church, the Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, the Mt. Sinai Baptist Church, the Grace Baptist Church, the Friendship Baptist Church and the New Life Church of Carol City.
Local 10 News Reporter Terrell Forney contributed to this report.
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Want to leave these memories here to see the difference after years. Want to remind myself what we all together had done to change the system and would like to see what we’ll become in near future. #saynotoracism #racismmuststop #racismmustend #systemmustchange #letsmakeworldabetterplace #thereisnosuperiorrace
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So proud to join my church @CFMiami and other faith leaders in a time of prayer and support Leah in her mission to protect people and the environment by distributing our free reusable masks! 🙏🏼🖤😷 @maskmission_ #prayerwalkmiami #peace #spreadinglove #kindness #pray #freemasks #goawaycovid19
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Today I participated in a peaceful and prayerful protest with my church, in the pursuit of justice and equality for #BLM — because the Bible is very clear: “Dear friends, as God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 🖤 #ChristJourneyChurch #PrayerWalkMiami #BlackLivesMatter