Washington, DC – The National Black Church Initiative (NBCI), a faith-based coalition of 34,000 churches comprised of 15 denominations and 15.7 million African Americans, is very concerned that the killing of the five police officers in Dallas may trigger someone like Dylann Roof to target the Black Church once again. This is why we are issuing an Emergency Alert Level Purple. Churches should be vigilant during any meetings or gatherings at their place of worship. We are asking churches to coordinate with law enforcement officials in their communities and to activate their church emergency plan to prevent violence visited on their congregation, especially church leadership, who we believe are very vulnerable.
Some who read this may say that we are overreacting but we know that there are some very sick individuals in our society and nothing would please them more than to start a racial war between African Americans and Whites. We cannot afford to let our guards down and we want to send a very clear message to all those who would harm us, we will not be sitting ducks for you to shoot down next time. We will implement strong, proven, non-violent strategies and techniques to prevent this from happening. This is why we are raising our Emergency Alert Level to Purple, which is our highest Level that says that there is immediate danger to African American congregations going forward in the near future. We bypass both the Yellow Level which is cautionary and the Orange Level which is a more heightened Alert to the Purple because of the raw atmosphere that was produced in Dallas. We developed this coded system right after the shooting in South Carolina. We deplore any form of violence perpetuated by anyone, on anyone, including policemen.
Rev. Anthony Evans, President of the National Black Church Initiative says, “This time we will not be caught flat footed, too many strange things have happened since the killing of the nine Christians at Emmanuel AME by the hands of a little monster called Dylann Roof. Everybody understands that there are many more Dylann Roofs out there, and for us to put our heads in the sand during this particular moment in our Nation’s history would be irresponsible and unfaithful to all of our members and our churches.”
In my letter to Attorney General Lynch dated June 20, 2015, I called for a briefing from the FBI, “The first question is in response to the existing presence of publically known White supremacist groups that have been consistently monitored by your Department. The National Black Church Initiative wants to be assured that our government is doing everything possible to protect African American congregants and their respective property from these White supremacist organizations (i.e. neo-Nazis, skinheads). The National Black Church Initiative also wants to be involved with receiving updates on a real time basis as to whether or not Mr. Roof was associated with any of the known and unknown, anti-Black organizations. Given the visceral nature of White supremacist groups, we are fearful that African American religious leadership remains a target of assassination of these White supremacist groups.” They chose not to give us, in real time, briefings on White supremacist organizations and their activities, this is why we are raising the emergency Alert Level to Purple this time around, which is our highest Level that says that there is immediate danger to African American congregations going forward in the near future.
We want to prevent this from happening. This is why we are asking churches to implement the four basic protocols for safety.
1) Make sure that all doors that are not being used in the Church during worship or any meetings are locked and have someone go throughout the church before and after activities in the church and make sure that the church is locked up so no one can get in or be hiding in the church when congregants show up for an activity.
3) Have an organized group of 25 men in the congregation who will patrol in and outside of the Church facility to look out for any suspicious activities to report to any law enforcement as well as the people in the Church to shelter in place.
4) Make sure that you organize 5 of those men to conduct escort services. Have them escort women and children form the time they arrive to the Church to inside the safety of the Church and then when the activity is over have those same 5 individuals coordinate escorting women, children and families back to their automobiles.
There are many lessons from the Dylann Roof / Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church tragedy and one of the striking lessons we must take form that is that we cannot afford to consider all visitors to our church in the future who are opposite from our skin color and culture to be someone that is friendly in nature. We must act with suspicion and love
Because of the raw atmosphere and because of the real nature of evil, it is imperative that the National Black Church Initiative and other black or white religious organizations take appropriate measures to prevent any retaliation or any blowback from the continuous police abuse of African Americans. Let us be very clear that this is a paradoxical situation. At the same time we are asking police to perform their basic task of protecting of serving the public we are also accusing some of them of abusing their badge and visiting upon us lethal force. The Church and other parts of the African American community must decide in the future how we will deal with this dichotomy. One of the solutions may be that we have to create a security force that will protect our own members.