pictured above: Bishop Gelsey , and the family, friends and supporters of Rashonna Ray Ray Johnson who was ka victim of violence last month in Buffalo ny
Bishop Frederick Gelsey made it clear from the start that he had a lot of respect for the Black Lives Matter movement and its non-violent protests against police brutality and racially motivated violence against Black and Brown people.
However his focus, he explained, is to create an anti-violence community atmosphere and stop Black homicides committed by Blacks against one another – especially gun violence among the younger generation.
After preaching the funeral of 23 year old Rashonna “Ray Ray” Johnson, the mother of three who was killed in a senseless act of violence last month when gunmen fired into a crowd of young people at an outdoor pop-up party, Bishop Gelsey’s rallying cry became, “NO MORE OF THIS!”
No stranger to the pain of losing a child to violence (his son, was killed in 2012), he knew he had to do more than merely preach a sermon.
“I’ ve marched with Black Lives Matter,” he said. “And I respect the movement, but I want to march to end Black homicides. When are we going to march for one another?”
Last Saturday afternoon upwards of 200 people of all ages joined the Bishop and supporting anti-violence organizations for a march and rally along Jefferson Avenue from Best St. to E. Utica.
Chanting “No more of this!” and “Homicide has got to go because we say so!” Saturday’s event was a sign of a community’s willingness to stand up and acknowledge the problem of Black homicide. Accordimg to news reports, as of last month, shootings in the city are up 81% this year compared to 2019. There have been 213 shootings, and 48 homicides, in Buffalo from January through the end of September.
Aside from illegal guns flooding the inner city,” and a myriad of other socio-economic and culural issues Blacks have to deal with, the words in a lot of the music youth litsen to today, said Bishop Gelsley, is like adding fuel to the fire.
“We have created this environment of homicides and murder in every inner city in America,” he continued. “Death and life is in the power of the tongue.”
Yet despite the grim realities, Bishop Gelsey assured that things are not hopeless.
“When we say there’s nothing we can do about the murders that’s going on in our community, we are without hope. We can do something! “ he said. ’” No more of this! We have hope that we will see an end to this Black on Black homicide. We won’t be quiet anymore! After today we’re standing for Ray Ray!”
He told marchers that we have to “stop brainwashing ourselves” and help young kids to not fall into the same cycle of violence, death and dying…”We may not be able to stop the ones who are out there already, but can stop the ones that are coming up behind them…we’ve got to have hope…we’re got to believe we can stop this…We’ve got to change our mindset…We can stop this ourselves.
Nobody else is going to do it . NO MORE OF THIS!!!
Going forward organizers say they will march for every youth who is a victim of a homicide, and continue to bring attention to the reality of what is happening around us as we seek solutions and pray, for positive change.