About 100 people representing a handful of religions came together Sunday for a night walk through the streets of southwest Fresno to hear from residents about issues such as police violence and to begin to heal after recent fatal shootings across the country.
Bryson White, a minister with Saint Rest Baptist Church and an organizer with Faith in Community, a network of about 20 local churches, said night walks are scheduled every month so the organization can hear from residents who have felt their area has been over-policed while they suffer from housing inequality and environmental degradation.
White felt the walk also was an opportunity for people from other parts of the city to see southwest Fresno first-hand and to bring back a new perspective to their own neighborhood. The minister said he hopes this would encourage positive change toward how all Fresno residents are treated by law enforcement.
Sunday night’s walk came after recent police shootings across the country and after Saturday’s protest against those shootings that began at Shaw and Blackstone avenues in Fresno and ended at Clovis Police Department headquarters.
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Alan Coles, a member of First Congregational Church of Fresno, heard about the night walk from his pastor during Sunday services.
“We feel the anguish and the pain, and we just have to show solidarity in our community and help these people,” Coles said. “It’s not right what’s happening in our country. We need to do more to heal.”
Taymah Jahsi, a community organizer, was happy to see the turnout in response to the recent police shootings.
“I think it’s beautiful that we see all races and all religions starting to come together for a common cause,” Jahsi said.
Jahsi was hopeful more people from north Fresno would join the night walks because she felt a positive dialogue would be created between a disconnected north and southwest Fresno.
Sunday’s walk began in front of Saint Rest Baptist Church on Reverend Chester Riggins and Ivy avenues as the group split into three groups that headed in different directions. The groups were led by ministers who spoke with residents to hear their concerns.
The walk ended back at Saint Rest, where a vigil was organized. White said it allowed the participants to reflect on their experience and on police violence affecting the country.
“It’s a space for us to cry out to God about what’s happening in our city around police brutality, what’s happening in our country around police violence,” White said. “And truly it’s a sacred place for us to connect with one another.”