Pastor Johnnie Clark Jr. just wants peace.
The former Lathrop pastor – who started his church in Lathrop before moving to Tracy several years ago – is part of a group that is organizing an event at Mossdale Landing Community Park on Thursday. It will include praying for the health and welfare of the public and the police as the country remains in a state of shock after the events of last week in which two black men were killed by police officers in different parts of the nation and five Dallas police officers were shot and killed by a sniper at an otherwise peaceful march through that city’s streets.
It was that moment – when bullets struck 12 police officers who were present to protect protestors and ensure that it remained a peaceful event, killing five of them – that Clark Jr. wanted to step and do something.
“That was really the final straw for me because it was at a peaceful protest when those gunshots rang out – striking police officers as well as people who were participating,” he said. “It just got to the point to where I knew something needed to be done, and as pastor I felt we needed to get back to the basics with prayer.
“I’ve never met anybody who didn’t want to be prayed for or prayed with, and I thought that this would be a wonderful segue way to bring people together.”
From 7 to 8 p.m., Clark Jr. will be welcoming anybody from the public who wishes to attend and is encouraging other pastors from other churches to come and be a part of the event – hoping that those that have the ability to calm those in their congregations and exert a peaceful influence will play a part in the historic moment.
He has even reached out to the City of Lathrop and Lathrop Police Services, and has been told that an officer will make an attempt to come by the event as a sign of solidarity.
But Clark Jr. also knows that it’s a delicate matter and a delicate time – stressing the event, being dubbed “Prayer for Peace,” isn’t advocating for any one particular group but instead being used as a tool to unite and bring people together under a common banner.
“That’s why this is being called Prayer for Peace because it’s all about peace on every level,” he said. “We need peace in the world today, and this isn’t about people being against the police and it isn’t about the police being against the people – you don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. People in these communities want peace at every level.
“I do as an African American male understand what people mean when they say that Black Lives Matter, but I also understand that all lives matter and this isn’t an event that’s just focused on black lives. Life matters – period. All live matters, and whether you’re Latino, African American, Caucasian – everybody is going to bleed red.”
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