Clergy members on social media using the hastag #usemeinstead. (Photos courtesy of Twitter)
Clergy members across the country are adding their voice to national outrage over the North Miami Beach Police Department’s use of mugshots of African American men for target practice.
Predominantly White clergy from various denominations took to social media with the hashtag #UseMeInstead, an effort to urge the North Miami Beach Police Department to use their photos instead, and to respond to the systematic problem of racism.
The social media movement was created on the Facebook page of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America after several clergy members used the platform to express their disapproval with the police department’s use of Black images for target practice.
The news was made public by National Guard Sgt. Valerie Deant, whose brother’s picture was among those fired upon by officers during training.
National Guard Sgt. Valerie Deant (below) and her brother Woody Deant (above). (Courtesy Photos)
North Miami Beach Police Department Chief J. Scott Dennis publicly denied allegations of racial profiling, according to Miami PBS station WLRN, and said the department had previously used mugshots of White and Hispanic individuals. Dennis apologized to residents in Washington Park, Fla. and said the department has ended the use of mugshots in target practice.
One of the pastors who discussed the issue on the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Facebook page, Rev. Joy M. Gonnerman, told the Washington Post that the effort to send their pictures to the police department was “motivated by our service to Christ and his call to love our neighbors.”
“It’s such a desensitization thing, that if you start aiming at young Black men, and told to put a bullet in them, you become desensitized,” Gonnerman said to the Post. “Maybe, to change the picture, it’s you know what, dare ya, shoot a clergy person.”
Despite the department ending the practice, participants in the #UseMeInstead campaign plan on sending their 8-by-10 photos to the North Miami Beach Police Department.
Below are some of the #UseMeInstead tweets and images: