Updated: Aug 6, 2020
This past Sunday, we were collectively outraged by the violation of sacred space that took place at Friendship West Baptist Church in Oak Cliff, TX. A convoy of muscle trucks, cars, and motorcycles bearing the flags of the Confederacy, “Thin Blue Line,” and “Make American Great Again” physically and spiritually trespassed on the parking grounds of the Friendship West Baptist Church. This is the second incident of white supremacist intimidation against a Black Church in as many weeks. A few days earlier our sisters and brothers at The Way Church in Berkeley, CA were violated by an arsonist’s attempt to burn down their church just hours after they proudly displayed their Black Lives Matter banner.
Make no mistake. The violation of Friendship West was not accidental nor incidental. It was a coordinated attack of intimidation, all too reminiscent of KKK and Neo-Nazi drive-bys, meant to terrorize and strike fear in the hearts of our leaders and cause our community to lose heart. But what they didn’t know is Friendship West is the people’s church led by the people’s pastor, Rev. Dr. Fredrick Douglass Haynes, III—Dallas’ very own drum major for justice. And what they didn't plan for was a community of unapologetically Black residents showing up in unity and power declaring in the words of Pastor Haynes, “You are not gonna come to Oak Cliff and intimidate us!...You came for us and we didn't send for you. We ain't the ones!” We kicked them out of our neighborhood.
Well, Black people, what happened at Friendship West has been happening everyday in our neighborhoods. Our communities are violated by economic policies that ensure resources remain segregated in our city. While deck parks, boutique hotels and skyrises are being constructed in the north the south is left with food deserts, unpaved roads and stray dog attacks. Our communities are consistently violated through an occupying police force that is paid to ticket, fine, arrest, and even kill our people for the slightest infraction, and sometimes for none at all.
But we believe this past Sunday, August 2 the community didn’t just show up to protect a pastor or a building. No. We showed up to say ENOUGH! The people have seen, and the people have heard. We are not intimidated, and we are not afraid. They picked the wrong time and the wrong church and the wrong people. We are God’s people, a righteous people! So here is what we are going to do!
This Sunday, Dallas Black Clergy for Safety, Equity, and Justice along with For Oak Cliff and Friendship West Baptist Church are calling a “Ride for a New Dallas.” We are going to drive our cars, trucks, and bikes through our own Oak Cliff community ending at the Friendship West Baptist Church reclaiming our streets and sacred space. They had 1,000 trucks and cars. We got 1,000 more. This is our community, our church. These are our lives!
And as we do this action, we have two demands for Dallas officials:
We demand that our city adopt the 10 New Directions for Public Safety and Positive Community Change.
We demand that we defund policing in our communities and reallocate no less than 60% of the current public safety budget to redressing the decades long history of targeted and intentional economic disenfranchisement, terrorism, and incarceration unleashed on the Black people of Dallas.
All other initiatives, including but not limited to equity conversations, resolutions, proclamations, street name changes, pulpit swaps, diversity dinners, and equity talks, that are not clearly and intentionally focused on these goals are to be considered distractions. Such empty action has nothing to do with the ultimate goal of the full liberation of Black people in our city, and further serves as either a project of assimilation or extermination.
We are stronger than ever! We are more committed than ever! And as long as God got us, we gon’ be alright!