Religious leaders gather in Miami Gardens, plead for peace amid protests

MIAMI (WSVN) - Pastors and community leaders of different faiths came together to call for peace following the death of George Floyd.

The group gathered Tuesday morning at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, located at 21311 N.W. 34th Ave. in Miami Gardens, to try and figure out how they can help demonstrators get justice.

Their message is for the public in general and the thousands of protesters across the country.

“White people are outraged because of what they saw in the video camera. We’ve been outraged since 1619,” said Dr. Wayne Lomax, senior pastor of the Fountain of New Life Church, also in Miami Gardens. “We’ve said it in a multiplicity of ways. We don’t have any more ways of saying it.”

Dozens from churches and places of worship were in attendance at the event, which, they said, represented thousands in their congregations calling for the community to start working together for change and a better future for the children of America.

“We stand in solidarity with the hundreds of thousands of persons around the country who are demanding justice,” said Antioch Missionary Baptist Church Rev. Authur Jackson III. “We’re not going to stop praying, we’re not going to stop protesting, and we’re not going to stop demanding that justice is served.”

“This is not a black issue,” said Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert. “If this is a black issue, you’re on the wrong side of this. This is a people issue. This is a humanity issue. This is an American issue, the idea that America says that we are all created equal.”

Cellphone video showing a Minneapolis Police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck while taking him into custody, May 25, has sparked outrage around the world.

“We are tired of watching the same old story get replayed over and over and over again,” said Dr. Derrick Hughes from First Baptist Church Piney Grove in Lauderdale Lakes.

For days, thousands have participated in peaceful protests. Some have spiraled out of control.

7News cameras captured cars that had been set on fire near City of Miami Police headquarters in Downtown Miami, Saturday night.

But leaders at Tuesday’s event said focusing on the unrest is wrong, and warned that violent protests are a dangerous distraction.

“The story ought not be what they’re burning. The story ought to be what that officer’s actions were and the life that he took,” said Gilbert.

“We’re asking the community — all of our stakeholders, all of our leaders — to consider our children as we move forward,” said Miami-Dade School Board Vice Chair Dr. Steve Gallon III, “and the example that we must provide, the hope that we must provide, the faith that we must provide.”

This group said that now is the time for change.

“We cannot remain silent when our brothers and sisters are mistreated, abused or killed unnecessarily,” said Islamic Center of Greater Miami Religious Director Dr. Imam Samra. “We must speak up and ask that our country and our community do better.”

“We’ve changed laws. Are you willing to change your hearts?” said Lomax.

“All we’re asking is that people of good conscience, of good mind, people who actually want to see real change, join with us,” said Gilbert.

The group told the protesters to take the same passion shown during protests to the voting polls.

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