Members of the clergy have started a new hashtag, #UseMeInstead, imploring police to use their images for target practice after news broke that North Miami Beach’s Police Department was using mug shots of black men, the Washington Post reports.
According to the report, the idea to send out photos of the clergy for target practice started in a closed Facebook group for Lutheran clergy, where pastors were discussing the controversial North Miami Beach practice.
“Maybe we ought it make it harder to pull the trigger, and volunteer to put pictures of their family up,” the Rev. Joy M. Gonnerman said in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Facebook group as she and others discussed the deeper, systematic problem behind the use of real mug shots.
Gonnerman told the Post that the response was “motivated by our service to Christ and his call to love our neighbors.”
“We initially started thinking, if a whole lot of us, in our clergy collar and worship attire, sent our photos to them, it would make a really powerful statement,” the Rev. Kris Totzke of Texas told the Post. “Then it really snowballed, and we got people all over the country and of all different faiths.”
“It’s such a desensitization thing that if you start aiming at young black men and [are] told to put a bullet in them, you become desensitized,” Gonnerman said. “Maybe, to change the picture, it’s, ‘You know what? Dare ya; shoot a clergyperson.’”
Most of the pastors adding their photos to the movement have been white, the Post notes, motivated by a desire to be allies against racism. Gonnerman now has a pile of several photos, 66 of which she intends to mail to the Police Department.
Read more at the Washington Post.