SEATTLE — A group of pastors said they are alarmed by recent shootings in Seattle and are recommitting themselves to addressing the inequality that often leads to violence in their communities.
“We have got to give our young people hope and let them know there’s more than just the street corner,” said Pastor Lawrence R. Willis, who leads Truevine of Holiness Missionary Baptist Church in South Seattle.
Ten years ago, Willis helped form The United Black Christian Clergy, a coalition of Seattle-area pastors, after seeing an uptick in violence. He said they are once again gathering and expanding their ranks this summer to call attention to shootings and pressure the city to increase funding of community programs.
Willis and a group of pastors gathered at the intersection of 23rd Avenue and Cherry Street in Seattle’s Central District on Tuesday afternoon to pray for a young man who was shot and killed there Monday night.
“We see Black Lives Matter, all this stuff, our Black men are dying right here on the street," said Willis. "This is where we need to be marching, this is where we need to be standing up, not tearing up downtown, but finding resources so we can stop the racism and the effect that it’s having on Black America."
There’s a fierce debate in Seattle City Hall about de-funding the police and directing the money toward community programs, which advocates hope will help quell violence.
Willis said he'd like to see more job training opportunities for young people, including partnerships with big tech companies.
“We have a big world out there that we can explore,” Willis said. "We just need some resources and some support.”