A large group of community members and faith leaders marched down University Avenue in Berkeley on Dec. 14 – recognized as “Black Lives Matter Sunday” in churches across the country – with signs that read, “Black Lives Matter,” “I Can’t Breathe,” and “People of Faith Respond.”
Filled with passion and anguish over the recent grand jury decisions to not indict the police officers that killed Eric Garner and Michael Brown and continued racial injustice, the group was led by Pastor Michael McBride of The Way Christian Center and many other clergy leaders of different faiths.
Called a “pilgrimage of lament,” the march started at First Congregational Church on Channing Way and ended at The Way Christian Center on University Ave. where a crowd of people staged a die-in, symbolic of the 4-and-a-half hours that Michael Brown’s lifeless body was left in the street in Ferguson.
“We’re here to declare that all Black lives matter and all Black lives deserve to be protected under the Constitution that says that we are all created with inalienable rights; the right to be safe, the right to live and pursue happiness,” said McBride, director of PICO National Network’s Live Free Campaign.
The event was intended to create a space for communities to mourn the Black lives lost to systemic racial injustice.
“I can’t keep up with the genocide. And we move and we organize, and we scream and we yell, and we’re fighting back, but I can’t keep up,” said Eniola Abioye, a senior at UC Berkley who led a peaceful protest from Sproul Hall at the university to the Alameda County Courthouse in Oakland on Dec. 13.
A member of the UC Berkeley Black Student Union, she organized the protest after witnessing cardboard cutouts of Black bodies hanging from Sather Gate on campus
“I don’t like the idea that although I feel like I have a lot to bring to the table in the way I look at the world, that I can still be seen as a threat,” said Mack McGhee Jr., a student at Laney College. “I don’t like the idea of my little brother growing up and having the looming fear of the people who are supposed to protect him.”
Among the churches that participated were The Way Christian Center, McGee Baptist Church, Congregation Netivot Shalom, The Church Without Walls and others.