Pastors pray for police, end of violence after chaotic summer in Grand Rapids
GRAND RAPIDS, MI – The Rev. Jerry Bishop of Lifequest Ministries has called on 100 men to come together with Pastors and Police Chief Eric Payne to pray for an end to the violence that has hit the city and beyond this summer.
He hit his dating goal but said it wasn’t enough.
“This is a county wide crisis that really reflects our whole country right now,” Bishop said Thursday, Sept. 17 at Martin Luther King Park.
“There are literally hundreds of thousands of people in crisis right now. Our whole city should be heartbroken.
Grand Rapids Police have investigated 23 homicides so far this year and numerous shootings that have resulted in injuries or damaged homes and vehicles. Last year there were 18 homicides, twice as many as the year before.
Police say the coronavirus pandemic has caused stress and limited opportunities for young people. The murders of George Floyd and former Grand Rapids resident Breonna Taylor, both black, at the hands of the police led to protests across the country, some turning into riots.
Last weekend, 11 people were shot dead in Grand Rapids, none fatal. The injured included seven at the East Paris Hookah Lounge.
On Friday September 11, two people were shot dead, including one fatal. Two people – aged 16 and 20 – were shot and killed in Wyoming on Wednesday.
Black pastors have been particularly concerned about the violence and are keen to work with Grand Rapids Police to prevent crime and resolve cases. Many attended the prayer meeting at the park and spoke at recent press conferences.
The Reverend Daniel Smith of the Messiah’s Baptist Church said those who have gathered are not anti-police, but rather “we are pro-police, pro-community. We need all the resources to be brought together for us to have a productive society and to dispel the myth that there is negativity among leaders.
Payne, the police chief, was encouraged by the response. Police have dealt with the rise in violent crime, a May 30 riot, protests and the pandemic. He says the police need to bond with those they serve for the good of the police and the community.
“It’s uplifting to have so many people come to pray for the Grand Rapids Police Department,” he said. “We need the support of the community, to work with the community. “