When Loving Your Neighbors Means Marching

On Friday night I had the honor of participating in a vigil and march in memory of our neighbor Amilcar Lopez-Perez. It being only my third march, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. To be completely honest I was a little nervous because I knew that the autopsy report released earlier yesterday had rightly angered many people. However, I was humbled by how beautiful and powerful the evening was.

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We started at the place of the killing, right around the corner from my house and marched to the local police station where we had a die-in and left candles along with the names of our brothers and sisters lost to police violence written in chalk. At both locations we had interfaith memorial and prayer time, including moving rituals performed by a local first nations group, Danzantes Xitlali, and prayers lead by local clergy. The legal team also revealed the autopsy report which went public earlier friday proving that Amilcar  was shot six times in the back as he fled for his life from the plain-clothes officers who accosted him. After our stop at the police station we continued our march to a local church where we were offered free dinner and spent some time talking and eating in community.

The wonderful community leaders and clergy who organized the vigil and march did an amazing job setting the tone for a peaceful, sincere, passionate protest and I am so grateful to them for their hard work. I am proud of my dad who has gotten really involved in this and has earnestly sought to support our black and brown neighbors in protesting this issue that so disproportionately affects them.

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photo by Lydia Chávez via missionlocal.org

I also had the incredible honor of meeting and listening to the powerful words of pastor Michael McBride who eloquently encouraged and prayed beautifully over our protest in front of the police station. I admire pastor McBride very much both as an activist and a Christian, so getting to shake his hand and exchange a few words meant a lot to me. More importantly his presence at the protest was very powerful.

I don’t go to church. I rarely find myself engaged in shared spiritual experiences outside of my family, the majority of my God moments are things I experience and reflect upon within myself, even when those moments are a reaction to something outside of myself. However, I felt so many God moments at the protest last night. Listening to the words of pastor McBride and local priest, father Richard Smith, standing in unity with people of all creeds and backgrounds who are passionately seeking justice, truth, and love, and trying to understand the pain felt by the families of those who have been lost to police violence, some of whom were with us. All of these experiences (and others, I am sure, that I can’t describe) felt so real, so much bigger than all of us standing in front of the police station, and so connected to a larger story.

photo by Lydia Chávez via missionlocal.org
photo by Lydia Chávez via missionlocal.org

It was a powerful and spiritually moving evening and I am so thankful to have gotten to be a part of it, yet so sad that such protests are necessary. May we, through our actions and with our voices, help to bring about a world in which our children won’t have to march to protest the unnecessary killing of their brothers and sisters by those employed to protect them. May we one day see evidence that the moral arc of the universe does indeed bend towards justice.

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