Religious leaders in WNY disheartened by Saturday night’s violence and destruction

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BUFFALO N.Y. (WIVB) – Religious leaders throughout buffalo have their own thoughts on last night’s destruction and violence.

True Bethel Baptist Pastor and Common Council President Darius Pridgen was among the group of faith leaders upset over last night’s riots throughout Buffalo. He says he understands why people want to voice their concerns and their frustrations on racial violence but it needs to be done peacefully.

“You can get things done without harming your neighbor,” Pridgen said.

Pridgen says he’s disheartened by the actions of several protesters during Saturday’s rally against police brutality. As one of the leaders of faith in the community, he says he does not stand that behavior.

“Last night was a mixed bag, because you had a protest that was peaceful that was helpful that talked about people’s concerns and then they’re were some unfortunate incidents,” Pridgen said. “The people who acted out destroyed property, hurt other people. There is no way that I can condone it.”

Bishop Edward Scharfenberger is also sharing his thoughts and words of healing to the community through a video message on twitter.

“It is he crucified and risen who sends us the holy spirit, the very love of god to raise us up from the vicious cycle of violence and abuse of racism and prejudice of any kind imposed on the life and dignity of any child of God,” he said during his message.

Then, close to where saturday’s rally was held in downtown Buffalo, The Change Church held it’s first gathering Sunday morning.

“The biggest attention catcher is unity. Unity of the body of Christ, unity in the city, unity in our leaders,” said pastor Duane Thomas.

Pastor Thomas says the community has every right to stand in solidarity and express outrage over a black man who was killed by police in Minneapolis. but that he does not support destruction and violence.

“Stop terrorizing your community this is the place you live,” he said. “I woke up this morning my kids are around it, you know, they see all this is happening, windows broken on the street. This is where we live. So we’re vandalizing a place where we live. It’s not getting attention the right way.”

Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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