Demonstration Supports Local Police
Nearly one hundred people took to the streets of Pearl City on July 18 to march in a “Demonstration of Support” for local police and safety officers one day after a sheriff’s deputy and two policemen were ambushed and killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
The demonstration, organized by Pearl City Community Church, was a Christian response to the tragic killing of five police officers in Dallas, Texas, and the police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile earlier this month.
“Today we are here to show our appreciation for the fairness, even-handedness, respect, courage and dedication of our police and safety officers,” declared Phil Reller, Pastor of Pearl City Community Church, as demonstrators gathered outside the Pearl City Police Station.
Demonstrators began at Pearl City Community Church and walked the four blocks to the police station carrying signs of prayer and gratitude as motorists honked their horns in support. United Church of Christ and United Methodist Church clergy, chaplains, churchgoers, elected officials and other concerned citizens gathered in common witness.
“We are not willing to let this day pass by without expressing our moral outrage that innocent people, especially young men of color, and peace officers who dedicate themselves to protecting and promoting peace and justice, are being sacrificed in our streets,” said Charles Buck, Hawai‘i Conference Minister.
Also speaking were State Senator Clarence Nishihara, State Representative Greg Takeyama, and City Councilman Brandon Elefante.
“These men and women in uniform put themselves on the line and risk their lives daily,” said Elefante. “It is noble and honorable that we gather here today in prayer and recognize them for the sacrifices they make to serve us.”
Handmade banners, thank-you cards, lei and paper flowers with messages of aloha were presented to police officers outside the station, where a flag waving at half-staff honored officers slain over the weekend.
“Any time we get support from the public, we really appreciate it because quite frankly we don’t get enough of it,” said a Honolulu Police Department officer at the demonstration. “People are always quick to criticize, but not so quick to thank us for the job that we do every day.”
Senator Nishihara, a member of Waipahu UCC, said he believes the demonstration was the first of its kind in Hawai‘i. Plans are in the works for utilizing Pearl City Community Church as a forum for dialogue between police and the community.
“Our church is in a neighborhood with a lot of drug addiction and homelessness, and police are trying to do effective community outreach,” said Pastor Reller. “We want to bring neighbors and police together to dialogue about safety issues and foster mutual respect and support.”
During World War II, members of Pearl City Community Church fell victim to racism as 120,000 Japanese Americans were relocated to internment camps. Some of those very members participated in the demonstration of support, exhibiting the power of love as a weapon against injustice.
“The Christian teaching is that perfect love drives out fear,” stated Rev. Buck. “Only by the power of this love, rather than by the blaze of weapons, will we vanquish the forces of fear that threaten to terrorize our streets and disrupt our society. Here in Hawai‘i, let us show what aloha can do.”
Demonstrators gather outside the Pearl City Police Station. View more photos of the day.