Clergy Send In Photos To Replace Images Of Black Youth Police Were Using For Target Practice

CREDIT: Joy Gonnerman's Twitter Feed. Used with permission.

When National Guard Sgt. Valerie Deant arrived at a shooting range in Medley, Florida for annual weapons qualifications training in December, she was expecting a typical military exercise. But as she readied for target practice, she noticed several bullet-hole-ridden mug shots of young black men hanging near the range, left behind by the North Miami Beach Police snipers who had just finished using the facilities. That alone was enough to frustrate Deant, but she suddenly came to an even more horrifying realization: one of the pictures was of her brother.

Deant, her family, and her fellow National Guard members were outraged that officers would use images of the young men as targets, and many locals called for the police chief to resign. But according to the Washington Post, as news of the incident began to spread, clergy in Florida and across the country offered their own response: they asked police marksmen to use their pictures instead.

Over the past few weeks, dozens of priests, ministers, and seminarians — including celebrated progressive Christian author and pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber — have protested the actions of the North Miami Beach Police Department by using a Facebook page and the hashtag “#usemeinstead”, posting images of themselves and daring police officers to shoot at pictures of collared faith leaders instead of black youth.