San Diego County

20+ Local Faith Leaders Across Region Discuss Police Brutality, Reform

One church leader called systemic racism "sin" and said it must be addressed

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More than 20 community leaders from different faiths gathered together on Thursday to call for an end to police brutality and make recommendations on reforms in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Faith leaders from across the county discussed ways police officers can ensure “fair and just treatment of all residents, regardless of their skin color.” The meeting included bishops, rabbis, reverends, imams and more.

The leaders are members of the San Diego Organizing Project (SDOP), a non-partisan, multi-faith network that puts faith into action. Its main focus right now is to dismantle unfair and racist systems.

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SDOP has been working with communities to solve social justice issues.

“This is the business of the church because the church stands for the people," said Father Neal José Wilkinson of Our Lady of Guadalupe San Diego. "The church wants all of God’s children to be respected, well-cared for, to be protected."

Wilkinson told NBC 7 systemic racism, which is racism that is practiced in political and social institutions, must be addressed. He said it is "a sin because all of us are precious in the sight of God.”

“As people of faith who affirm and promote the interdependence of all life and the inherent dignity and worth of each person, we are called by love to act,” Reverend Kathleen Owens of First Unitarian Universalist Church said in a statement.

Protests against police brutality continued Sunday in cities across the nation.

A nationwide outcry for police reform and to defund police departments have been discussed following the killing of George Floyd. San Diego residents have echoed the outcry as protesters throughout the county have also called for those measures to be adopted.

On Wednesday, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and San Diego Police Department Chief David Nisliet announced a policy change in SDPD and said they will reveal details on the department's de-escalation policy.

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