Empty the Churches into the Streets

Lafe Tolliver

By Lafe Tolliver, Esq
Guest Column

Almost like clockwork, we are getting grim daily or weekly news reports of deadly woundings or killings in the Black “community.”

If you did not know better, you would think that Toledo has morphed into an urban shooting gallery, even making the national news as a “hot spot” for homicides.

The early images of Toledo being a calm and practically crime free city has been kicked to the curb.

You would think that the increase of assaults and killings was almost a diabolical scheme to throw Toledo under the bus and thus give pause and cause for businesses or people to relocate to this new “hot spot.”

Everyone has a theory or an opinion as to how to cauterize these wounds and to stop the spillage of innocent blood on the streets (streets included acts of domestic violence).

As opposed to simply resigning ourselves to the fates that what is, will be…there are solutions, but they will cost time and money and if the City of Toledo is not willing or able to fully or partly pay the freight, things will continue as is, until the so-called movers and shakers of this city get serious and initiate a sustained plan (one to 10 years) to end the senseless violence.

Now, as you know, I have not shied away from calling those things that are, as they are; and that includes the embarrassing truth that too much (any killing is too much!) of this crime is being done by Black people against Black people!

There. I said it. Deal with it. We are our own worse enemies and I do not have the space or time to delve into the historical and psychological reasons that perpetuate this monstrous behavior.

But I will say, it can be stopped, but the stoppage will require a gargantuan effort by all entities and persons working in tandem to stop the carnage on the streets.

The components of such an effort will require an educational component, a psychological component, a monetary component and a spiritual/religious component.

My proffering at this point in time is the spiritual/religious component since I believe that people can be animated and influenced by positive religious values that recognizes the value and humanity of each person; and by their lives being snuffed out, the aggressor is making a statement.

That statement is that the victim is not made in the image of the same God that made me (the shooter) and that one day I will give an account of these deeds done while I was living, and that accountability includes my marring that image of God in the person I just wounded or killed.

An amazingly simple theological statement indicates that when God made humankind, it was made in His image and for a shooter to take a life (not talking about self-defense), that shooter is telling God that His image making in the likeness of the person I just killed, is of no importance to me.

Not a good thing to have on your record when you meet God after you die.

But, I digress…

My clarion call is initially for and to the myriad of Black churches that populate the “inner city.”

This is my challenge to them and their pastors:

(1) Have a city-wide convocation with notice to each congregation, be it a house church with three people or a “mega” church with hundreds in attendance (or their names merely on the church roll…significant difference!).

(2) Take a map of the City of Toledo and divide up the known “hot spots” neighborhoods into districts.

(3) Each church is assigned a district. Some districts will have multiple churches assigned to it.

(4) In each district, each church will be assigned walking beats.

(5) In those walking beats, each church will have three to five members assigned.

(6) Those members will rotate with other assigned beat walkers to cover each street from the time of 8 PM to 5 AM EACH day.

(7) Those beat walkers will be clearly identified with orange or yellow vests and will carry cell phones, flashlights notebooks and whistles.

(8) They will walk those neighborhood streets, interface with the residents and will report any suspicious activity to the police.

(9) The beat walkers will receive training in community relations and how to be a calming influence when calm is needed.

(22) Each beat walker time will be no more than two hours, before the other shift of beat walkers take over in that particular district.

Community funds and/or city funds will be expended for costs to implement this program realizing that the savings in such preventative actions will be incalculable.

If needed, any scary pastors who dread the idea of walking the streets of their community and talking with the residents, some of which support their very church, will receive an exemption and they can continue to teach and preach a faith without works gospel.

Now, I realize that such a program is dramatic, but we are dealing with a situation that calls for the release of the power of the most identified and powerful institution in the Black community and that is the Black Church, hands down.

For the pastors who only wish to remain behind their stained-glass windows and receive anniversary blessings and preside over the funerals of the victims of this carnage, shame on you.


Contact Lafe Tolliver at tolliver@juno.com