US clergy respond to police shooting pictures of black men for target practice: 'Use Me Instead'

North Miami Beach Police were found to be using pictures of six young black men in their shooting range – including the mugshot of an officer’s sister

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The Independent US

Dozens of members of the US clergy have issued a powerful response to the news that a police department was using pictures of black men for target practice in its shooting range.

North Miami Beach Police officers were found to be firing at mugshots of real people they had previously arrested, after a National Guard sergeant using the range later discovered her brother was among those pictured.

There have been calls for NMB Police chief J Scott Dennis to stand down in the wake of the incident, which he has claimed did not violate policy and does not require disciplinary action.

NBC 6 News, which broke the story and spoke to the furious Sergeant Valerie Deant, reported that none of the other police departments it spoke to in the wider Miami area used pictures of real people in their firing ranges.

And in their own reaction to the story on social media, clergy men and women said that if the police must use real people they should “#UseMeInstead”.

Reverend Joy M Gonnerman told the Washington Post that the idea for the campaign had come up on the Facebook group for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, who said they thought it might “make it harder to pull the trigger”.

“It’s such a desensitisation thing, that if you start aiming at young black men, and told to put a bullet in them, you become desensitised,” she said. “Maybe, to change the picture, it’s you know what, dare ya, shoot a clergy person.”