In Ferguson, JP minister reacts to ‘heartbreaking’ decision

The Jamaica Plain minister training non-violent protesters in Ferguson, Mo., told the Gazette about his strong emotions following a Nov. 24 grand jury decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of unarmed youth Michael Brown three months ago.

“I’m exhausted. It’s heartbreaking. The grand jury actually issued an indictment last night and it was on American democracy,” Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou of JP’s First Baptist Church told the Gazette from Ferguson on Nov. 25. “I sat in a room with some of the strongest activists I know and they sat around a table and wept.

Protests, looting and arson wracked the Missouri city following the grand jury decision announcement in a case involving a white police officer and a black teenager. Protests had been ongoing since the Aug. 9 shooting, and Sekou had been training protesters in non-violent civil disobedience methods.

“We will continue to stay in the streets,” Sekou continued. “Our only hope is public opinion. Every public official [involved] has betrayed every Mike Brown of America.”

Black Lives Matter, one of the organizations with which Sekou is working, organized a protest in front of Boston’s Dudley Square police station last week in solidarity with the Ferguson protests. It turned into a massive march.

Sekou is pastor for Formation and Justice at First Baptist Church at 633 Centre St. He is also the author of the 2012 book “Gods, Gays and Guns: Essays on Race, Religion, and the Future of Democracy,” and a forthcoming book about the 2011 London youth riots.

Sekou has been organizing in Ferguson “on and off” since August, said church pastor Rev. Ashlee Wiest-Laird, who also joined the protests last month.

Ferguson has been a flashpoint of local and national protests over racism and civil liberties since the Aug. 9 police killing of Brown. The St. Louis-area city was the scene of repeated protests often broken up by heavily armed police.

Over the last two months, Sekou said he and other volunteers from First Baptist have helped train over 800 protesters in civil disobedience in preparation for the grand jury decision. Sekou said he already has been arrested twice and tear-gassed once in Ferguson.

Sekou formerly was a minister at the Lemuel Haynes Congregational Church in New York City. He is an activist and speaker, and has worked extensively with troubled and homeless youths.

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