‘I don’t believe violence accomplishes long-term solutions’: Utah pastor reacts to George Floyd protests

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Members of Utah’s faith community have been watching the protests across the country and here in Utah for George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer had his knee on Floyd’s neck. 

Utahns took to the streets of Ogden and Salt Lake City to voice their frustrations and express their calls for justice after Floyd’s murder.

RELATED: Governor deploys National Guard to help control ‘escalating situation’ in downtown Salt Lake City

ABC4’s Brittany Johnson spoke with Corey Hodges, Lead Pastor of The Point Church, on Saturday to get his reaction.

Thoughts on George Floyd

“The situation and the video that we watched here in America and probably around the world is very heartbreaking. It speaks of nothing but a murder. We actually watched someone murdered on that tape. And someone, I might add, that didn’t seem to be resisting and that was under the control of a police officer. Watching that was heartbreaking. It broke my heart.”

How the George Floyd incident makes him reflect on his children

“It really makes me uncomfortable. I have three African-American boys and I think about it every day.”

“I literally haven’t stopped thinking about their safety and making sure they’re not stopped by a police officer, and if they were, if they are, that they comply with orders and demands, and that they will make it safe. This is the unfortunate reality of being Black in America, as it relates to our interactions.”

How the Pastor discusses the tough imagery with his children and his multicultural church

“There’s a famous quote by Dr. King that says, ‘In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.’ I think those are very powerful words because we have to all speak up any time we see injustice or humanity being mistreated or degraded.”

“We all have different platforms and and different levels of exposure, but we can all do our small part. For instance, are we intentional about developing and nurturing relationships with people who are not like us, who come from a different ethnic group or a different economic bracket or different educational bracket. I think a lot of times we are victims of being too narrow in our exposure and in our friendship circles. One of the things I tell my people at our church as the pastor is that we have to do that. We have to be intentional about creating friendship circles that are diverse. Whether it is personal spaces, our work spaces, our worship spaces, we have to be intentional about making sure that we can create safe spaces and safe places for people that are different than ourselves, to have honest and frank conversations so we can learn from each other. Learn what our commonalities are and learn what our differences are and learn how to put those things together for the common good of humanity.”

Thoughts on escalating protests in Salt Lake City

“I’m so disappointed because I don’t think you can get peace from violence. I don’t think you fight fire with fire. To protest peacefully is one of our amendment rights. I think people have a right to exercise the right to protest and to peacefully protest. But the violence and the destruction of property is — I don’t condone that. I don’t think that’s the way forward. We have to learn how to channel channel our frustrations or anger, pain, in more positive ways in order to make a difference.”

Other ways people can instill change other than protest

“We have to get involved in the process, in the political process. People who have color have to find themselves in positions of power, meaning, run for elected office, go to law school to be a judge, or when you’re called for jury duty, make sure you show up to express that privilege as a citizen so our voices can be heard and balance out the voices so they’re not so monolithic in as they are in a lot of places in our society.” 

People have protested peacefully but no one listened, and now they’re fed up

“I certainly can relate to that feeling. I feel that way. I am fed up, I am hurt, I am angry, I am disappointed that some times It feels like the contract we have with America is not being fulfilled on both ends. I don’t want to in any way diminish or delegitimize those real and legitimate feelings. I want to say that first. However, we have to channel those emotions in more positive ways. We have to continue to do it and let those frustrations be the fuel for our power, of activism, and peaceful protest. And as a person of faith, we have to pray. Ultimately, those who are faithful people and people of prayer, we know that prayer works. And those people that may not be people of faith, but are people of goodwill, we have to be steadfast in our desire for change, no matter how frustrated and setup we get. But being violent and expressing our frustrations in a destructive way — I don’t think in my personal opinion, is part of the solution. It may get attention and it may make you feel better for a second or two, but in the end, it’s going to be our civic responsibilities as law-abiding citizens that will further the cause of equality and equal rights for everybody.”

People across the United States are empathetic to the George Floyd incident

“I think the word is empathy. I think people, anybody, any human being, who is good hearted and of goodwill, when they are exposed in this age of social media, when they are exposed to the inhumane, unjustified, deplorable, despicable, disgusting murder of a Black man, and for that matter for any man, but in this case, a Black man, all too often, when they see that, no matter where you are, it is inflammatory. It is inexcusable. It elicits emotions that are sometimes uncontrollable. I don’t think you have to be in the town where that happens. You don’t have to be in Minneapolis. You just have to be a human being of goodwill, and of good conscience and a good morality to be upset. I think the whole nation, regardless of our locations, as relates to states, the nation is responding to what they’ve seen through this video.”

Thoughts on President Donald Trump tweets saying, “when they loot it’s time to shoot.”

“I think crises will illuminate anyone who is in leadership. It will illuminate their ability or their inability. When you are a leader, you have a responsibility to lead with wisdom. I feel like you are responsible to the people that you’re leading to express words of peace and words of calm. Leaders should not be advocating further division for the violence of anything. Leadership in times of crisis requires empathy, it requires wisdom, it requires leaders to think before they speak. That’s one piece of it. On the other hand, those who are protesting have to also use the same sort of wisdom. It’s okay to be frustrated, it’s legitimate to be angry, it’s legitimate emotion to be fed up, you know. These are all legitimate emotions. I’m just saying that when you protest, you have to make sure that you post this in a way where you can be heard. After tonight, after the fires have gone out, I think while the violent protests may get the attention for a second, for a minute, that’s not sufficient. We’re looking for long term solutions. In order to get long term solutions, you have to think strategically, ‘how is this going to impact my cause, my passion, the things I’m frustrated about in the long term?’ And I just don’t believe that violence accomplishes long term solutions.”

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