Over 100 local clergy and members of the church community will gather at the steps of five city’s City Halls on Oct. 22 to push local politicians for tangible and effective legislation against police brutality in a day of prayer and meetings they’re calling “Operation Unity”.
“We don’t want them to say it to us privately anymore. We want them to actually enter into an agreement that says, as long as you’re in a place of power, you’re going to work with clergy and community to make sure we move forward in accountability between community and law enforcement,” explained Pastor Michael J. Fisher of Greater Zion Church Family and organizer of Operation Unity.
The “operation” comes on the heels of a summer of protest, where thousands of racial-justice protests occurred across the United States largely after the killing of George Floyd in May. One report from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) estimated from May 26 through Aug. 22, about 7,750 protests took place in 2,400 locations across all 50 states and D.C.
For Fisher, Operation Unity is a way for communities fighting for justice to come together, especially within the black church community.
“Black Lives Matter does things together. The LGBTQ+ community, they do it all together. The Latino nationality, they kind of move together. When it comes to the black church, we don’t,” he believes. “If we’re going to have a voice in this, we’re going to have to do it together…It’s all about unity. It’s all about us having one sound, one band, one message.”
As much as the day is about showing a united front, the group is also ready for a solid response from elected officials promising legislation that will hold law enforcement accountable. Outside, participants will gather at the steps of City Hall at the five chosen cities to pray and sing while pastors will meet inside with city leaders to discuss and sign the “Declaration of Interdependence.” Those cities are, Long Beach (at 8 a.m.), Compton (at 9:30a.m), Inglewood (11 a.m.), South/East LA (12:30 p.m.) and Downtown LA (2 p.m.).
This document is a pledge that promises that city leaders will formulate the legislation the community is asking for.
“We’re really not coming to sing another song, right?” Fisher added.
Fisher also recognizes that politicians may be more willing to work with clergy than they might be with Black Lives Matter activists who have been demanding similar action. Operation Unity is recognizing that leverage and platform and utilizing it.
“Operation Unity is important in reestablishing the narrative that the movement for social justice was always birthed from the church, specifically the black church, the black clergy. And so this moment is reclaiming that narrative because a lot of people think that the church is dead when it comes to social justice, but we’re still yet alive.”