FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Hundreds with the national chapter of the NAACP have gathered in Missouri for a peaceful protest following the grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown. The week long protest, “Journey for Justice,” began Saturday in Ferguson at the Canfield Green Apartments where Brown lived. It will end on Friday at Missouri governor’s mansion in Jefferson City.
Both members and non-members of the NAACP have joined together for the 120 mile march, including Fort Wayne Reverend Carlton Lynch. He is headed to join the movement Sunday night following a rally at 6 p.m. at Truelove Baptist Church. The church is hosting a Hope Ferguson rally to be a part of peaceful protesting.
“Tonight is to send hope, to send prayers. But over all I think there is a lesson that I believe all of our cities can learn from. In Fort Wayne, we’ve had issues. But I think right now there is an issue with community policing, and I think those issues need to be broadened.”
After the rally, Lynch will leave to join with the NAACP in Missouri. Lynch is making the journey because he wanted to experience Ferguson first hand, rather than through a television.
“I want to go and get my foot on the ground,” Lynch said. “I don’t think sometimes we can help by being so far away. This whole situation has got entirely out of hand throughout Ferguson and throughout the country. It’s not to protest, not to rally for an indictment, because I believe at this stage of the game there needs to be restoration and healing. Now, we need to send a message of peace. I want to move from being a local activist to being a national activist and just going where the hurt is, go where the pain is, and see if I can be an influence.”
Before Lynch meets up with the marchers, the first thing he wants to do is walk in the area where Brown was on the day he died in August, including the store where he was first seen.
“I want to walk the tracks, from where he started at to the place where he eventually ran into (Darren Wilson),” Lynch said.
The pastor of a church in Ferguson plans to show Lynch around the city. The pastor’s church was recently burned down after the grand jury announced their decision not to indict Wilson, who announced his resignation from the Ferguson Police Department Saturday.
“There are a lot of angry people. There are a lot of protests, and they aren’t all peaceful,” Lynch explained. He’s hoping his presence will give him the chance to talk to people in a peaceful way, so he can be a part of a movement that produces change. Lynch believes his trip could help improve relationships with the Fort Wayne Police Department.
“It’s no joke that every city has problems when it comes to policing. We need to see what is it that can be fixed here. There are still cases where police shot young men and so forth. People are still upset about it. We cannot just raise up when it’s police shootings. We also have to raise up when it’s one on one shootings- citizen against citizen. We’ve got to raise our eyebrows to the whole issue of violence, not just law enforcement. We should live in a violent-free country. I think we need to tackle violence as a whole, collaborate with whoever is willing to come to the table that has a voice of influence. We have a major issue when it comes to love and respect. We really are in a critical place in our country,” Lynch said.
Once he returns, Lynch plans to meet with local law enforcement officials, including Fort Wayne Police Chief, Gary Hamilton.
“My goal is to not only go down and try to offer peace, but also get information that I can bring back to my city. In any instant, we’re going to need the law enforcement. The law enforcement is going to need to be trusted. The law enforcement also has to understand that they’re going to have to learn how to do community policing where they’re not just policing in the community, but they’re policing for the community,” Lynch said.
The NAACP’s “Journey for Justice” is calling for new leadership of the Ferguson police department, beginning with the police chief. In the evening, marchers will participate in teach-ins and rallies that are open to the public.
Lynch will be keeping NewsChannel 15 updated all week as he journeys from Ferguson to Jefferson City with the national chapter of the NAACP.