Faith leaders respond to community, city talks about race relations

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Many faith leaders in the community are speaking out in the wake of protests and calls for improved race relations in Memphis.

There have been a few community meetings since protestors overtook the I-40 bridge Sunday.

“It’s kind of hard to manage a platform like that with so much pain and depravity that people have been dealing with for so long,” said Rev. Earle Fisher with Abyssian Baptist Church and Memphis Grassroots Organizations Coalition.

He was a panelist at Monday’s heated community meeting with city leaders.

He said he could not say with certainty what Mayor Jim Strickland or Interim Police Director Michael Rallings took away from it.

“This mayor and his administration is working very hard toward all the goals on that list,” said Strickland’s Chief Communications Officer Ursula Madden.

“I’ll let them speak for themselves, but I think it’s clear that the people are engaged. The people are passionate, and we are going to continue to exercise every meaningful measure of resistance towards the white supremacy and the injustice that we have experienced until we are treated more justly,” Fisher said.

Several leaders from the faith community are speaking out, as Memphis tries to heal.

After Monday’s public meeting at Greater Imani, Hope Presbyterian hosted a private gathering for faith and police leaders.

Pastor Rufus Smith explained why Tuesday on Live at 9.

“We believe this is not just a police problem. It’s a pastoral problem, and so, we asked our colleagues to come together last evening without the media and not open to the public, so that we could have an honest, open, frank, and sacred conversation about what’s going on in our city,” he said.

It’s unclear what changes are ahead for the city, but many faith leaders want to be a part of the discussion.

Fisher said some ministerial leaders have pledged their support to the movement.

“We hope to see the fruit of that labor in the months and years to come,” he said.

The city is planning to host a community meeting next week to address more concerns.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Fisher said many community organizers have not been included in the planning of the meeting.

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