PHOENIX — Following the wake of the race-targeted Charleston terrorist attack, some churches with predominantly black congregations have expressed disinterest in having their places of worship patrolled by the local sheriff’s office.
Reginald Walton, a reverend at the Lucy Phillips Memorial CME Church addressed infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s intention to have his deputies make regular patrols of his church’s campus by saying “Sheriff Arpaio, hear me well. Thank you, but no thank you.”
Sheriff Arpaio is a well-known and controversial national figure, in part known for allegations that his Maricopa County office has engaged in racist profiling and policies. TruthVoice reported last month on a lawsuit brought against Arpaio for these very reasons.
In the context of these allegations, Walton and other spiritual leaders find the prospect of Arpaio’s office patrolling their places of worship offensive, and possibly insulting. According to a report from local Phoenix news station KPHO, other reverends have weighed in to discuss their displeasure with the proposal:
“We will not allow any more lives that are taken in Arizona or the nation to be propagated by these publicity stunts and so we ask you to stop and to stand down,” said the Rev. Warren Stewart of the Church of the Remnant in Phoenix.
Dylann Storm Roof confessed to Wednesday’s fatal shooting of nine people at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, North Carolina. The massacre has widely been regarded as an act of terrorism given Roof’s racist political beliefs.
There is general public concern about “copycat” terrorist attacks, which some say may be spurred on by Roof’s violence. WRIC in Richmond reported a machete-wielding man made threats against the predominantly black United Nations Church, immediately following the attack in Charleston. A video of the incident is available below:
Despite concerns and threats, the stance church leaders in Phoenix have taken seems to indicate that a perceived need for increased security does not necessarily foster trust in the community’s local police forces.