Congregations Protest Recent Violence With Prayer Walk

Photo: Peaceful, religious demonstrators gather for the first annual Good Friday march to protest increasing violence in the Bay Area, walking from University Avenue to Channing Way.
Alex Ritchie/Photo
Peaceful, religious demonstrators gather for the first annual Good Friday march to protest increasing violence in the Bay Area, walking from University Avenue to Channing Way.

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Good Friday Walk

Congregations and community members march through Berkeley for the first annual Good Friday Walk.

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Chanting "Stop the Violence," Berkeley church congregations and community members participated in the first annual Good Friday prayer walk to address increasing violence in the Bay Area.

A group of about 50 marchers stopped to discuss their message at sites that symbolized violence in the region or programs that work with Berkeley's youth and homeless population.

The march was planned by Berkeley Organizing Congregations for Action, a coalition of 18 churches, and Pacific School of Religion, a local seminary.

"It seemed like a good idea-that on the day we remember Jesus being crucified, to publicly witness the people who are being harmed by violence in our communities, especially those who don't necessarily have the loudest voice," said Justin Nickel, an organizer for the Lutheran Church of the Cross.

Starting at Lutheran Church of the Cross on University Avenue, the march stopped at the Downtown Berkeley BART Station and the Berkeley Emergency Food and Housing Project before ending at the First Congregational Church of Berkeley on Channing Way.

Many marchers cited recent events in Oakland-specifically the Jan. 1 death of 22-year-old Oscar Grant III at the Fruitvale BART Station and the deaths of four Oakland police officers on March 21-as proof of the need for continued proactive organizing against violence.

"Certainly it's been a relatively intense year with the BART shootings and the deaths of the four police officers, and unfortunately, there's always been this struggle for human treatment for the poor," Nickel said.

Julia Jacobs, 13, who held a "Stop Violence Against Youth and Homeless" sign alongside her 2-year-old brother, said she marched to spread awareness for the Grant case.

"I don't like what happened with the Oscar Grant case because he was killed for no reason," Julia Jacobs said. "It almost seemed like racial profiling."

Laura Jacobs, Julia Jacobs' mother and a member of Lutheran Church of the Cross, said she rallied her family to support her church and pray for peace.

"Starting off the year was not a good thing, it was senseless killing," Laura Jacobs said. "People are dying just walking down the street, so the more we can possibly do and help as many people as we can, I'm all for it."


Contact Melani Sutedja at [email protected]

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