Boston faith leaders and city officials on Wednesday denounced police violence against the nation’s Black communities, while calling for support of law enforcement in the wake of a recent ambush attack on two California deputy sheriffs.
Rev. Eugene F. Rivers III, a long-time community activist with the Ella J. Baker House in Dorchester, was joined by other faith leaders along with Police Commissioner William Gross and Mayor Martin J. Walsh outside Boston police headquarters.
“We condemn the murder of Dijon Kizzee, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Eric Garner, Philandro Castille and many others at the hands of police,'' Rivers said in a statement. "By the same token we decry unjustified violence against police in the lawful execution of their duties.”
In a telephone interview, Rivers said the prayer vigil was held in response to the Black Lives Matter movement that has drawn a sharp focus on systemic racism among police, but also to recognize that law enforcement is in need of public support during socially turbulent times.
In particular, he cited the apparent assassination attempt on two Los Angeles County deputy sheriffs. The deputies were shot while sitting in their cruiser on Saturday. Surveillance video shows how one deputy, a 31-year-old mother, applied a tourniquet to her 24-year-old partner’s arm after being shot twice in the face herself, in a life-saving act. Both deputies are expected to survive.
The shooter remains at large, and outrage over the attack has generated a $175,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the assailant.
"These were not racist killer cops,'' Rivers said of the California officers. “We must, if we are to be morally consistent, defend law enforcement when they do the right thing.”
Joining Rivers was Grand Rabbi Y.A. Korff, who is also publisher of The Jewish Advocate, Reverend Mark Scott, who is part of the city’s trauma and recovery team and Pastor David Searles of the Central Assembly of God church in East Boston.