By Jessica Easthope
There weren’t any protesters at Barclays Center the afternoon of June 1, but it has been a central place in Brooklyn for thousands of demonstrators. Unfortunately, some protests have turned violent and stores in the Prospect Heights neighborhood have been looted.
Pastors in the Brooklyn Diocese think they know a way peace and unity can be achieved, they’ve been here before.
“Are you angry?” asked Currents News.
“Very, it’s a horrible feeling,” said Father Alonzo Cox, the Pastor of St Martin de Porres Parish in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
Fr. Cox, who serves as the leader of the Ministry to African American Catholics in the Diocese of Brooklyn, has frustrations of his own.
He doesn’t condone property damage, but believes the destruction that has taken place in cities across the country is a reflection of the deep frustration felt by the black community he serves.
“We can’t make a comparison between the loss of a building and the loss of a life,” said Fr. Cox.
These clashes bring back memories of Civil Rights demonstrations in the 1960s, before Father Cox’s time, but something Monsignor David Cassato remembers well.
“I remember those days very clearly,” Msgr. Cassato explained. “This brings back those memories of the 60s in my mind, and I can say we need to work to create peace among all people,” the Deputy Chief Chaplain for the NYPD added.
He says right now, police across the city are serving and protecting while fearing for their lives.
“I don’t think there’s any problem with a peaceful protest, my issue is with people that incite violence,” said Msgr. Cassato.
Both Msgr. Cassato and Fr. Cox are on a mission themselves. They’ve been reaching out to the parishioners and officers they serve with a message of peace and encouragement.
Both pastors say the Church can and historically has played a role in deescalating social conflicts.
“I think of Dr. King,” said Fr. Cox. “When can we all live in harmony and peace?”