The pastor of a prominent Raleigh church said Thursday that she and other clergy members will lead peaceful protests if three law enforcement officers are found not guilty of assaulting a black man and allowing a police dog to bite him repeatedly.
"We will be out in the streets of Raleigh, protesting and marching," said Nancy Petty, pastor of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church. "You can bet that if that verdict comes back without a conviction, we will be out in the streets."
Petty was joined by a coalition of diverse, multi-faith clergy leaders from across the city during a news conference Thursday morning at Shaw University. The group gathered at the historically black campus to protest the beating of Kyron Dwain Hinton on April 3 on Raleigh Boulevard.
Cameron Broadwell, a Wake County sheriff's deputy, and Highway Patrol troopers Michael G. Blake and Tabithia L. Davis face felony assault charges in the case.
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The clergy members gathered Thursday in response to the release one day before of video footage from Hinton's encounter with law enforcement.
Hinton, 29, was hospitalized following the incident and said he suffered a broken nose, fractured eye socket and roughly 20 dog bites.
Petty said the release of the videos detailed a narrative that has become all too familiar across the state and nation, where people of color endure brutality at the hands of those who are supposed to serve and protect them.
"This is not an isolated incident," Petty said. "The clergy has been silent for too long. We will not be silent any longer. We will watch, wait and plan with the determined expectation that justice will be served. ... We need to be the community that disrupts violence."
Many of the nearly two dozen clergy members said they were angered and hurt by what they saw on the videos.
"That April 3 video vividly showed chaos," said Jemonde Taylor, rector of St. Ambrose Episcopal Church in Southeast Raleigh. He said Hinton's prayer that can be heard on the video was "powerful and complete in its brevity. African-Americans have screamed this prayer for centuries."
Jenny Shultz-Thomas, pastor at Community United Church of Christ, repeated Hinton's prayer from that night: "'Lord stop this. Please help me."
"This nation, this world was woke two weeks ago," Shultz-Thomas said. "We are watching and waiting with thousands of others across this world. We will not stop. We are woke to justice."
Lucy H.F. Dinner, senior rabbi at Temple Beth Or in Raleigh, spoke of "the inhumanity of what happened to Mr. Hinton" and the need to "reform a system that systematically works against people of color."
She said a broader discussion is needed to talk about "a nation that treats its people in this way."
Doug Long, senior minister at the Umstead Park United Church of Christ in Raleigh, wondered if Hinton's presence in the middle of the road would have been met with violence if he had been white. Long said he was in downtown Raleigh recently when he saw police encounter a well-dressed white man who was "very inebriated."
"He sat him down and counseled him, until calmness prevailed," Long said of the officer, comparing the incident to what happened to Hinton.
"That cannot stand," he said. "That cannot be."
Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said in a statement Wednesday that the videos do not fully reflect what happened that night.
"This is wrong. This cannot be made right," Long said in response. "There are no missing pieces of the puzzle that makes this OK."