Union Missionary Baptist hosts anti-violence rally

Posted: 7:00 PM, Jul 08, 2016
Updated: 2016-07-08 19:00:04-04

As Union Missionary Baptist Church was making the final touches before Friday night's rally.

"I think it is a very delicate time for America," Rev. Melvin T. Jones said as he was reading Facebook comments.

The rally was originally organized to show solidarity with the communities reeling from police-involved shootings this week.

"I mean you have to take a look at that and you have to ask where is the justice," Pastor Jones said.

As he and his congregation and other organizers were confirming speakers to talk about those injustices seen around the country.

Another tragedy hit Dallas.

In Texas, a gunman targeted police as they were following along with a peaceful protest.

"That should have never of happened and we want to make it clear." Jones said. "We don't stand for that kind of violence against police."

Five officers were killed and seven others were sent to the hospital after the ambush.

That act of violence made Pastor Jones shift the tone of Friday's event, "we're hurting just as badly for those families and want to establish our condolences to them," Jones told us.

Instead of just focusing the event on the two people shot by police in Louisiana and Minnesota. Jones knew he needed to include Thursday night victims.

"It's tragic and there was nothing gained if in fact this was vengeance," Jones said, "there is nothing gained there."

During a press conference in Dallas, Police Chief David Brown said when they had an exchange with the gunman, he said he, "wanted to kill officers," Brown said.

Even though we're hundreds of miles removed from Dallas, Baton Rouge, and Minneapolis Jones says Lansing needs to be proactive.

"We don't want the same kinds of situations happening here," he said. "We want to be a part of the broader dynamic, unfortunately taking place across the country."

A broader dynamic using these incidents of violence to start a dialogue. Something the church doesn't shy away from.

"We've got to speak up and speak out" Jones said.

In their history they've done a lot of speaking out, like when they had Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak to the community, to show their focus for change.

Something they thought was resolved, "we have to keep talking about making the system better until we get to a place, maybe beyond my life time," said Jones.

A place where he says he hopes is much brighter.