The Jamaica Plain minister who continues to train demonstrators in Ferguson, Mo., is facing charges for his dramatic attempt to head off a police confrontation there.
Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou of JP’s First Baptist Church was arrested in late September when he knelt in prayer in front of the Ferguson Police Department as armed police advanced towards activists protesting on S. Florissant Avenue. He was charged with “refusing to disperse.”
Sekou intends to enter a not guilty plea at that Jan. 27 date, and request the case be moved from Ferguson Municipal Court to allow for a jury trial.
“Clergy have a responsibility to stand alongside the community in this struggle. The church of the street and the communion of protest have redrawn bright, clear lines between just and unjust. Many men and women of faith have heeded this call, putting their bodies on the line, and ministering to those oppressed by systematic state violence,” Sekou said in a press release.
Sekou has been organizing in Ferguson “on and off” since August, said church pastor Rev. Ashlee Wiest-Laird, who also joined the protests in November. Since then, he’s been back to Boston two or three times and continues to train protesters in Ferguson in civil disobedience.
Ferguson has been a flashpoint of local and national protests over racism and civil liberties since the Aug. 9 police killing of youth Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson. The St. Louis-area city was the scene of repeated protests often broken up by heavily armed police.
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.