The pastor of a black church in Los Angeles where Black Lives Matter activists disrupted a meeting with Mayor Eric Garcetti last week and forced him to flee is blasting the movement for “disrespect and verbal violence.”
In a Facebook post, Pastor Kelvin Sauls of the Holman United Methodist Church wrote:
To the members of BLM-LA and Allies who cussed at me in the sanctuary on Monday night during the Town Hall, I have forgiven you. Because the lives of Black people matter, your disrespect and verbal violence will not be a weapon of mass distraction to our resolve in pressing on to seek solutions for the challenges and opportunities ini [sic] our community. Facing the rising sun, we will march on until victory is won!!
The 50 or so activists interrupted the meeting, turned their backs on the mayor, rushed the podium, and jumped on his car to prevent him from leaving under police escort. Hundreds of residents who came to discuss issues in the black community with the mayor were disappointed.
One of the organizers, Dr. Melina Abdullah, a professor of Pan African Studies at Cal State L.A., defended the group’s tactics in an interview with CBS Los Angeles.
“These kind of polite tactics that they’re advocating, we’ve been doing those for two years. Every day that we spend engaging in polite conversation, we run the risk of someone else being killed by the police,” she said.
Others in the black community, however, disagreed, saying that Black Lives Matter had “disrespected” the community. L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridely-Thomas, who is also black, told CBS Los Angeles that the group’s behavior “leaves a lot to be desired.”
Pastor Sauls was upset enough that he posted an additional message to the community on Facebook on Friday evening:
Pastoral Message to Members & Friends of Holman United Methodist Church:
Though disappointed & disturbed by the disrespect displayed by Back Lives Matters – Los Angeles and their allies to both our sanctuary & community at the Community Town Hall with Mayor Garcetti, we are even more determined to continue our legacy of creating and facilitating safe spaces for everyone to be able to lift voices through constructive & productive dialogue with dignity, civility and mutual respect between the South LA community & elected leaders to discuss & develop long-term strategic solutions to the challenges facing our communities.
Because the lives of Black people matter, we will continue to pursue with greater resolve strategic collaborations in seeking real and relevant outcomes for the South Los Angeles community in the areas of unemployment, legislation on anti-discrimination in the workplace, homelessness, quality city services, poverty, violence within community, police brutality, innovative community policing, and adequate transportation.
While non-violent civil disobedience has its place in any democracy, we will not condone, nor will we subscribe to the verbal violence and incivility that continues to disrespect and dehumanize others. Because the lives of Black people matters, we will be undeterred in the King-Parks-Lawson legacy seeking the shalom of the city towards a more just and fair society. We look forward to the next opportunity to facilitate a constructive and solutionary dialogue with the Mayor and other elected leaders. Facing the rising sun of a new day begun, we will march on until victory is won.
Rev. Kelvin Sauls,
President Barack Obama endorsed the movement at a White House event on criminal justice reform last Thursday. Critics, including former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, who is now the major of Chicago, say that the movement has made police more reluctant to enforce the law in areas suffering from violent crime.