November 28, 2011

Churches and faith-based groups need to organize collectively to pressure public officials to use initiatives that have been proven to reduce high rates of murder and violent crime in several U.S. cities, a New Orleans pastor told the PICO National Gathering of Clergy Nov. 15.

The Rev. Antoine Barriere said high rates of violent crime are tied to low-quality public education, "mass incarceration" of African-Americans and Latinos, and ex-offenders' limited access to decent jobs after they leave prison.

His comments wrapped up an anti-violence town hall meeting called Lifelines to Healing, which attracted more than 500 clergy and religious leaders from across the U.S. as well as 2,000 laypeople.

"We're going to stand up against our kids being jailed, our kids losing out, our kids in failing schools and our kids being shot like animals," said Barriere of Household of Faith Family Worship Church.

PICO stands for People Improving Communities Through Organizing.