City religious leaders demand the City Council immediate action to promote racial justice in Philadelphia’s African-American communities.
The interfaith group expressed opposition to budget proposals to increase police spending while reducing funding for critical community services. The current budget proposal boosts pólice spending by nearly $23 million while slashing funding to virtually every other city department.
“The Clergy Coalition of the Unheard” is the name the interfaith group adopted to raise its claim on racial justice. Its members outlined its requests in a letter signed by various religious leaders in the Philly region.
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“The members we minister to expect that we will raise our voices on their behalf when we perceive that things are not as they should be,” the letter states.“We are mindful that the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called riots the language of the unheard. But, Dr. King went a step further and suggested that we ask ourselves this question: What is it that the unheard are saying?”
The group requests the council to stand against the potential rehiring of 13 police officers who were fired for posting racist, Islamophobic and misogynistic comments on social media and allocate funding to the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium, a group conducting diagnostic testing and contact tracing in African-American communities.
The letter was spearheaded by POWER, an interfaith organization representing over 50 congregations throughout Southeastern and Central Pennsylvania.
Another religious group, Interfaith Philadelphia, also released a letter mourning Floyd’s death due to brutal police action.
“As a community of multiple faiths, we collectively struggle to breathe as we mourn the death of Mr. George Floyd and all the deaths this tragedy represents. That no mercy was afforded to Mr. Floyd during his dying moments is atrocious.”
The religious leaders encouraged efforts from the most relevant sectors to bring peace and understanding. “We call upon those in political leadership, the news media, as well as leaders of nonprofit, corporate, and sacred institutions to join in efforts that lead away from polarization and towards a unity of purpose that fosters a shared future.”
They also condemned the use of violence for the demand of justice.”We support non-violent action to reform structural and systemic impediments to justice and equity, while unequivocally condemning violence and the destruction of property,” the letter says.
Archbishop Nelson Perez and former Mayor Wilson Goode joined about two dozen leaders of the Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh faiths in signing the letter.