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Church Leaders Urge Oakland Residents 'Don't Call The Police'

OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- A group of church leaders took to the streets Sunday to urge Oakland residents to turn to local community groups for help and not the police.

Lynice Pinkard, a former pastor and member of First Congregational Church of Oakland, was among the leaders calling for the action.

"We stand up with integrity and say we're not going to be a part of the police violence system," she told the crowd. "In this constant and current imperial structure, all safety is an illusion."

Nichola Torbett, a leader at First Congregational Church, echoed Pinkard's sentiments.

"As a faith community that loves one another we don't feel that we can continue to support a system that harms people that we love," she said. "We've had people surveilled, targeted, followed, harassed."

Torbett said her church is one of several Oakland organizations working to find community alternatives to the police.

Oakland Deputy Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong says if the church group can prevent crime, he's all for it.

"If the goal is really to have a safe community, I think we can do it together and not separate," he said.

While he admits the public has lost some trust in the police, Armstrong says his officers are still the best resource for people in distress.

"When there is an emergency, that it's appropriate to call the police and allow us to respond," he told KPIX 5.

Church Elder Karen Mitchell says even with the new 'No Police' policy, there may still be times when police are needed.

If somebody was killed, if there was gunshots, or lives are, you know, in danger, of course," Mitchell said. "But we try to get them before that point."

But will it work?

"We don't know until we try, you know," Torbett said. "We're about faith, and our faith is in things unseen."


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