This prayer vigil, held at Bethlehem's Payrow Plaza, was organized by the Grand Dame of racial equality, Bethlehem NAACP President Esther Lee. She led a group of about sixty people, and ticked off several recent examples besides Ferguson. These include 12 year old Tamir Rice, who was shot and killed by police after pranking people in a Cleveland park with an airsoft toy gun. They include 43 year-old Eric Garner, who was placed in a fatal chokehold by New York police for selling illegal cigarettes. They include 17 year old Trayvon Martin, shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer after going to the store for skittles and ice tea. hat these victims all have in common is the color of their skin.
Police One, an internet site for police officers, who have made racist remarks like the following about Garner. "I guess it's the best thing for his tribe. He probably never worked a legit job."
Somewhere in the middle is everyone else, including Chief DiLuzio.
"I've known Esther for years," the Chief said of the always-outspoken Lee. "I know her commitment to the City and the people who live her." He then pointed to a young man running with a sign that says "Pray for Peace and Justice." "I think that's what everyone wants," he said, before holding hands with a black woman standing beside him during prayer.
|Esther Lee and Bethlehem Police chief Mark DiLuzio|
"We need to be honest," he concluded.
Wearing a black "Man of God" baseball hat, Second Baptist Church Pastor Edward Thompson spoke of Billie Holiday's Strange Fruit, a song about lynchings in the deep South, called "Strange fruit hangin' from the poplar trees."
But he asked God to "bless the policeman. Help him understand young people. Help us to stop killing one another."
|coolest hat ever|
"We will not tolerate injustice in our cities by excessive force from police officers," he declaimed. "We cannot allow things like that to happen. We don't want it here." But then he implored the crowd to "police your own children. Ask your kids the questions. Are thy being bullied? Are they doing their homework?"
"I don't know why people are afraid of black folk," stated Lee as the vigil ended. "It's worse now than ever."