North Minneapolis minister wants people to trust police chief after shooting leaves a black man dead

Sheletta Brundidge, WCCO Radio producer reporting

June 24, 2018 - 2:54 pm

While hundreds of Twin Cities residents blocked the annual Pride Festival parade to protest the police shooting death of a black man, many more attend church services to pray for peace.

On any given Sunday, the pews are full at Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in North Minneapolis.

But today it was standing room only.

Parishioners packed the sanctuary hoping for a peaceful resolution after a Minneapolis Police Officer reportedly shot and killed 31-year old Thurman Blevins Saturday evening following a brief foot chase.

While the investigation is still ongoing, detectives say Blevins was firing a handgun while walking near 47th Avenue North and Bryant Avenue North.

Several eye-witnesses we spoke to after the fatal shooting dispute that claim.

Tensions are high in the city with several more rallies scheduled to take place.

This unrest is the reason Anton Vincent and his family of five attended church Sunday morning.

Vincent, who has been a member of Fellowship Church for 14 years, says he hopes spiritual leaders can usher in calm amidst the chaos, “I hoped to get reassurance that someone is in control of what feels like madness.  Every police shooting has its own circumstances, but there is something wrong when a small percentage of society represents a disproportionate level of police violence.”

He says the church should play a major role, “The church can provide healing for the community as it gathers facts and seeks understanding."

Fellowship’s senior interim pastor Rev. Albert Gallmon Jr. wanted to make sure his congregants understood one important point, “ God gave us an African American Chief of Police and so I believe we need to trust our chief right now until he proves otherwise.  We have to give him the benefit of the doubt. He’s one of us, so let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.”

Medaria Arradondo is the Minneapolis Police Chief.   The 29-year police veteran took over the role in July 2017 when then mayor Betsy Hodges appointed him to run the office after serving as assistant chief.

Gallmon Jr. says like Vincent, most of the people who attended Sunday morning services were searching for hope, “Too much of this has happened throughout our communities and we all are suspicious of the police anyway.  But I let my followers know that no matter what happens, God is in control and let’s just pray and seek solutions.”

Gallmon says his prayer for the city is that everyone keeps a level head, “I don’t want our people to jump to conclusions until we get the facts.  And I can’t stress this enough: I want everyone to give this chief of police the benefit of the doubt. Right now, we have no reason not to trust him to do the right thing.”