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Calif. churches pledge to stop calling police

Members of the churches said that American policing has become so “problematic” that it’s best for them to abandon it


By PoliceOne Staff

OAKLAND, Calif. — A group of California churches have pledged to stop calling police in the wake of recent controversial incidents involving LEOs.

The Washington Post reports that some churches in Oakland are “divesting” from law enforcement, whether it’s for mental health crises calls or even acts of violence. 

Members of the churches said that American policing has become so “problematic” that it’s best for them to abandon it. The pledge comes in wake of controversial incidents involving police, including the arrests of two men at a Philadelphia Starbucks and the fatal shooting of Stephon Clark.

The program was organized by Showing Up for Racial Justice. Four churches in Northern California have joined the pledge, and other churches are being recruited.

“It’s a challenging ask,” said Rev. Anne Dunlap, a minister who leads SURJ’s outreach to faith communities. “It’s a big ask to invite us, as white folks, to think differently about what safety means. Who do we rely on? What is safe? For whom? Should our safety be predicated on violence for other communities? And if not, what do we do if we’re confronted with a situation, because we are, as congregations? . . . How do we handle it if there’s a burglary? How do we handle it if there’s a situation of violence or abuse in the congregation?”

The churches who have committed to the pledge are training their members on alternative responses to danger. Volunteer leader Nichola Torbett said her church has invited experts to train its members on de-escalating mental health crises, as well as on self-defense when it comes to violent situations. Members of the church will not be armed, she added.

SURJ leaders said while members are free to call police outside of church, they hope that they will someday stop relying on police entirely.

Dunlap acknowledged that many churches SURJ tried to recruit to join the pledge were not interested. 

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