Article19 Church Pursuit of Justice1

Farajii Muhammad and Dayvon Love speak on efforts to reform the Law Enforcement Officers Bill Of Rights at Rev. Kevin Slayton’s “Justice Revival” at his church in Waverly on Feb. 18. (AFRO Photo/Roberto Alejandro)

The Rev. Kevin Slayton is looking to get his flock directly engaged in the policymaking process, using his midweek services during Black History Month to highlight ongoing legislative efforts in Annapolis, Md. and calling on those present to take action in the fight for greater justice in the African American community.

The month-long series, titled “Justice or Still Just Us!” is held at Slayton’s New Waverly United Methodist Church and has already presented information on the Second Chance Act (Senate Bill 526, House Bill 244), and the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act (Senate Bill 40, House Bill 385) which would extend paid sick leave to many Marylanders currently without it.

“Yes we can march, yes we can give eloquent speeches, but as I often tell the congregation here, Dr. King has a lot of quotes but the one I like most is, he couldn’t make White folks like him or stop hating him, but he could pass laws to make it against the law for them to do so,” said Slayton during the service on Feb. 18, where attempts to reform the Law Enforcement Officers Bill Of Rights were discussed.

Farajii Muhammad of the American Friends Service Committee and Young Leaders for Peace spoke at the service with Dayvon Love, research and public policy director for Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, and addressed the role of youth in current advocacy efforts and social justice work in the city.

“The next generation is not a dead generation . . . it’s not a generation that you should be wondering whether, as they say, is there any good that can come out of this generation,” said Muhammad, invoking a familiar gospel passage. “There’s a lot of good that can come out.”

Love spoke on the specific bills attempting to reform the LEOBR (Senate Bill 566, House Bill 968), which would change the law to allow civilians to sit on police trial boards, giving the community representation within the police disciplinary process; would strip away the 10-day rule which prohibits questioning of an officer by a superior after a fatal shooting within 10 days of the incident; and would change the standing rules to allow family members of victims of police misconduct to sue on behalf of the victim; among others.

Love also addressed the importance of direct participation by community members in the legislative process.

“One of the things that I’ve learned is that a lot of the legislators there are not used to us being there,” said Love. “They’re not used to us advocating on our own behalf. They’re used to seeing advocates…but they’re not actually used to seeing us there. And the things that we have done in the past around these kinds of issues, when we brought people in mass to Annapolis, I feel like it’s had an impact on our success in some of our legislative victories that we’ve had in the past.”

Slayton then had those present take out their phones, and e-mail a number of legislators regarding the bills in question and expressing their support for the measures.

The justice revival was closed by the Rev. Dr. Heber Brown III of Pleasant Hope Baptist Church, who preached a sermon in which he said that God has called us to be co-creators with God in the creation of a more just world.

“I believe that God made us for this mission,” preached Brown. “I believe that God formed us because God knew that we were the one that could properly address the situation going on right now…In other words, you are God’s response to a broken situation in need of proper stewardship.”