Some Churches Are ‘Divesting’ From the Police

Several liberal houses of worship around the U.S. are saying they never will call the police, citing officers’ fatal shootings of blacks.

Nichola Torbett of the First Congregational Church of Oakland, Ca., declared last month that, “We can no longer tolerate the trauma inflicted on our communities by policing.” Citing photos of blacks shot dead by law enforcement, said that the church would never call the cops again, reports the Los Angeles Times. “How do police help? They often don’t,” said Torbett, who is white. As videos of the aftermath of white Americans dialing 911 on African Americans for taking part in innocent activities have repeatedly gone viral, members of the Oakland church are taking extreme measures in response.

They call it “divesting” from police. The church is part of a tiny but growing movement among liberal houses of worship around the nation making similar vows. They include another church in Oakland, one in San Jose and one in Iowa City, Ia. It’s mostly white ministers and majority white congregations leading the efforts, which come as debates over racism, stereotypes and the role of law enforcement hit universities, businesses and neighborhood councils across the U.S. At First Congregational, part of the United Church of Christ denomination, the decision to avoid police has generated a variety of responses. A regional body of the United Church of Christ in Northern California endorsed the effort. Elsewhere in the nation, churches have scoffed. Conservative media have accused the Oakland church of being anti-police, and questioned its commitment to safety. On Facebook, dozens of people are signed up to attend a July workshop at the church. It’s called “How to NOT call the PoLice (Sheriffs & Kkkorts) Ever.” “We’re taught to turn to police for so much, even simple disagreements between people,” said church member Sarah Pritchard, who is also white. “Why can’t we resolve issues among ourselves?”