Rev. Stachelle Bussey prays with members of Breonna Taylor’s family before the march begins Friday, September 25, 2020 in Louisville Kentucky. (Contributing Photographer Isabel Miller | @Isabelmillermedia)
Rev. Stachelle Bussey prays with members of Breonna Taylor’s family before the march begins Friday, September 25, 2020 in Louisville Kentucky.

Contributing Photographer Isabel Miller | @Isabelmillermedia

Community takes religion to the streets

"Some people do what’s right and some people stand on the side of what’s legal. We are going to stand on the side of what’s right.”

September 30, 2020

Louisville Ky.- Religious leaders from all faith traditions came together in Louisville last weekend to support the Black Lives Matter movement and to fight for justice for Breonna Taylor.

Minister Stachelle Bussey, a recent graduate of a Presbyterian theological seminary, said her ministry is here with the people in injustice square park.

“This is my duty. I feel so empowered to do the work of God to do the work of the holy spirit. I feel called to this,”  Bussey said.

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Bussey was one of some 20 reverends, ministers and clergymen who took to the streets along with protesters this weekend to speak out against the grand jury’s ruling in the Breonna Taylor case.

Taylor was killed by police in her home on March 13. 2020 sparking nationwide protests. On Wednesday Sept. 23 a grand jury indicted former officer Brett Hankison, with first-degree wanton endangerment for bullets he fired into the neighboring apartment. Neither of the other two officers involved in the case were indicted and no officer was found responsible for Taylor’s death.

The assembled leaders called for police reform and justice for Breonna Taylor and Bussey called the movement a paradigm shift.

“For Black people, this is our 9/11 and we are here to shift the tides of justice more than it has ever been before,” Bussey said. “This won’t be our civil rights movement, they moved us forward but this will be the movement that changes the lives of our children for generations and generations so we are out here because we believe we are to demonstrate. And some people do what’s right and some people stand on the side of what’s legal. We are going to stand on the side of what’s right.”

Linnette Lowe, a seminary student with the Unitarian Universalists and the executive director of central Louisville community ministries, had just come from First Unitarian Church where police trapped an estimated 200 protesters for two hours on Thursday. 

The church was opened for sanctuary for any protesters who wanted to have a safe place to refresh themselves and before 9 o’clock when the curfew was imposed, the church was completely surrounded by police in riot gear, Lowe said.

“We are not surprised, we are disheartened and heart broken by the continuing display of overt violence and power through the police department,” Lowe said.

Bussey was at First Unitarian that night as well and said she was the person who led everyone to and from the church. She said they saw aggression from the cops and that the police were trying to incite fear into the crowds by having black vans and their guns drawn.

Bussey said even though the police are trying to incite fear in the protesters, the feeling that is more present than the fear is exhaustion.

Lowe said a lot of the responsibility of religious leaders during the protests involves trying to be a non-anxious presence in this space. 

“Being open to listening and talking, and sometimes placing our bodies between people who are being violent and who are being oppressed,” Lowe said.

Brother Tim Duncan is a member of the Episcopal church that is right next to First Unitarian and he said he has been involved with the Breonna Taylor protests since the beginning. He said within the history of Louisville,  there have been numerous occasions where African American men particularly and in this case a woman, have been shot by police and the police often face no serious consequences. 

Duncan said the police department in Louisville needs to be defunded, demilitarized and he said the Fraternal Order of Police, a law enforcement union, needs to be decertified.

Dahabo, a Muslim woman at the protests who declined to give her last name, said she has seen a divide in how her faith is reacting to the protests.

“Within any religion there are Black people in that religion and that is something that I think has been a huge conversation recently, it’s just how much do we value Black Muslims and how are we willing to be there for them when it’s needed,” Dahabo said.

Some members of the religious community are older and can’t attend large protests in the streets due to the pandemic. These individuals are networking in other ways.

Sister Judy Morris, a Catholic nun and interim justice promoter for the Dominican Sisters of Peace, said she has been writing a blog, providing action alerts, writing letters, making phone calls, signing petitions, praying and doing everything she can to make a difference. She said she is praying for an end to systemic racism and for peace.

“We will get through this whether it’s Louisville, Minneapolis, Georgia where these crimes have happened, we will get through it but we have to get through it together as African Americans, as caucasian citizens, we need to join hands and not have fists,” Morris said.

 Editor-in-Chief Kallie Cox can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @KallieECox.

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