Missouri interfaith leaders say spiritual power ‘is greater than tear gas’

August 20, 2014

Mark Kelly Tyler, a pastor at Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, speaks into a megaphone.

Clayton, Mo. — About 10 miles from Ferguson, an interfaith group gathered Wednesday at dusk in front of the St. Louis County Department of Justice Services. They marched from a nearby high school, tailed by police.

“We must be an intimidating group, because they barricaded the sidewalks,” said Mark Kelly Tyler, a pastor at Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia. “They must have seen all these preachers, imams and rabbis coming out.”

Their spiritual power, Tyler said, “is greater than tear gas.”

The religious leaders had come from across the United States in recent days to demand what they described as justice for Michael Brown, the unarmed teen shot by a police officer on Aug. 9. Tyler said the group of about 200 was “only loosely organized,” but its members shared the sentiment that the events in Ferguson represent an American, not a St. Louis-specific, problem.

During the protest — which included a several speakers, including a rabbi and a St. Louis-based preacher — police stood off to the side. The event lasted about an hour, and took place in a neighborhood with a few well-maintained government buildings, tree-lined sidewalks, a Starbucks, and a Chipotle. After the protest ended a few from the gathering went for burritos.

The Washington Post explores the feelings and emotions of African American men along West Florissant Ave. in Ferguson, Mo., as thousands protest the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. (Chris L. Jenkins and Garrett Hubbard/The Washington Post)
Chico Harlan covers personal economics as part of The Post's financial team.
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