SF Pastor reflects on Gates incident

July 29, 2009 1:06:36 PM PDT
A San Francisco pastor and former city supervisor announced today that Sunday will mark a national day of reflection and discussion about a controversial incident earlier this month involving a Harvard University professor and a Cambridge police officer.

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The Rev. Amos Brown, pastor of the Third Baptist Church in the city, said the arrest of Henry Louis Gates reflects a larger reality of what happens to minorities every day in the U.S.

Gates, who is black, was arrested July 16 at his house in Cambridge, Mass. for disorderly conduct after a police officer responded to a report of a possible break-in. The charges were later dropped.

President Barack Obama has invited Gates and the arresting officer to the White House to discuss the incident on Thursday night.

Brown, who is also president of the San Francisco chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said the incident "reflects a certain bias, and certain historical attitude toward African-Americans" and that "we don't want the president to feel like he's out there alone on this issue."

Brown said various congregations will discuss the incident in cities throughout the country, including Oakland, New York City, Dallas, Columbus, Ohio, and Atlanta.

Pastors will reflect on lessons that can be learned, and then allow congregations to tell their own stories about encounters with police officers, Brown said.

Brown has been the pastor of the Third Baptist Church, located on McAllister Street, since 1976. He also served as a San Francisco supervisor from 1996 to 2001.

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