Watch CBS News

Harlem Faith Leaders Call For Community Healing After Police Officer Killed

NEW YORK CITY (CBSNewYork) -- Friday's fatal police shooting prompted faith leaders to speak out against violence this weekend, with a powerful message coming from the pulpit.

"As human beings we ought to grieve," Senior Pastor Michael Walrond told his congregation at First Corinthian Baptist Church. "We ought to mourn the death of another human being."

Solemn sermons echoed across Harlem on Sunday. Walrond told CBS2's Jessi Mitchell before the service how he feels a connection to fallen Officer Jason Rivera, who once wrote a letter to his commander detailing why he wanted to be an officer -- to change the relationship between police and the community.

Jason Rivera
NYPD Det. Jason Rivera (Credit: NYPD)

"That calling fundamentally for me is not about a calling to be a police officer or a calling to be journalist or a calling to be a clergy person," Walrond said. "It's a calling to be human...It is the most noble calling that any human being can experience, and that is a calling to improve, enhance and better the life of another human being."

Clergy of all backgrounds united to call for peace during a vigil via Zoom on Saturday night. Faith leaders said the only way for the community to heal is for love and compassion to win over hate and division.

The idea is respect," said one pastor. "The idea is understanding that each individual may function as an individual even though we have our various differences."

First Corinthian is among the congregations now aiming to uplift those who are hurting, through music and encouragement.

"I think one of the things we have to get past is the ability to say, 'I need help' and 'I want to learn,' and 'I want to grow,'" Walrond said. "And at this moment, I think that can happen."

If you have a tip about the happenings in Harlem, please reach out to CBS2's Jessi Mitchell by clicking here.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.