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Rev. Al Sharpton delivers eulogy after police killing of Patrick Lyoya

(RNS) — The Rev. Al Sharpton reminded mourners that Black persons are created in God’s picture on the funeral of 26-year-old Patrick Lyoya in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Friday.

“We have been created within the picture of God,” Sharpton mentioned in his eulogy April 22. “Once you see us, you’re seeing what God put collectively. And what God put collectively, you don’t have the appropriate to violate.”

A whole bunch gathered at Renaissance Church of God in Christ in Grand Rapids for the funeral, which was additionally livestreamed. Some mourners donned shirts studying “Justice for Patrick” as they paid their respects to Lyoya, whose white casket was draped with the blue, purple and yellow flag of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Lyoya, a 26-year-old Congolese man, was fatally shot by a Grand Rapids police officer on April 4. Initially pulled over for a mismatched license plate, a video launched Wednesday (April 13) exhibits the officer, who’s white, capturing Lyoya within the head after a quick scuffle. The officer’s identify has not but been launched, regardless of demands from Lyoya’s dad and mom. Earlier this week, a forensic knowledgeable confirmed that Lyoya died from a gunshot wound to the again of the top. Michigan State police are presently investigating the capturing.

Lyoya arrived from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2014 and leaves behind two younger daughters, 5 siblings and his dad and mom.

Sharpton, who delivered the eulogy, reminded listeners that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, the identical day of Lyoya’s demise. He additionally repeated calls for to launch the identify of the officer who killed Lyoya and referred to as on the U.S. Federal Justice Division to research the capturing.

“It’s time so that you can arise, arise in Michigan, arise within the US, to face up all around the world,” Sharpton mentioned. “It’s time to battle once more. It’s time to march once more. It’s time to arrange once more. It’s time to rally once more. It’s time to stroll collectively, youngsters. Don’t you get weary. No justice, no peace!”

The funeral itself contained few particulars about Lyoya’s life, however NPR reported that he was generally known as somebody type and who beloved soccer, music and dancing. Commissioner Robert Womak, who helped manage Friday’s funeral, informed NPR Lyoya taught Congolese dances in Grand Rapids golf equipment, and Pastor Banza Mukalay informed NPR Lyoya attended his United Methodist church simply exterior Grand Rapids.

Lyoya’s father, Peter Lyoya, described his son as quiet and peaceable through translator Pastor Israel Siku in a press conference on Thursday. His Mom, Dorcas Lyoya, informed the Detroit Free Press that her son introduced pleasure to others. “He’s the kind of person who you’ll like to be round,” she mentioned, including that he would typically put her “in an excellent temper to make me chuckle.”

Native Black pastors opened the service with prayers and Scripture readings from Isaiah and the Gospel of John, and a Gospel choir led the packed church in a rendition of Richard Smallwood’s “Complete Reward.” Stevante Clark, whose brother Stephon Clark was killed by police in Sacramento in 2018, and Gwen Carr, whose son Eric Garner was killed by New York Metropolis police in 2014, have been additionally in attendance, together with Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence from Michigan’s 14th District.

Sharpton acknowledged Bishop Dennis J. McMurray, senior pastor of Renaissance Church of God in Christ, for internet hosting the funeral. “The Bible says woe unto them which might be relaxed in Zion,” mentioned Sharpton. “Too many individuals at present are relaxed, whereas this sort of factor is happening. However thank God for Bishop McMurray, who had the nerve to open up his church. A few of you preachers didn’t need this in your church. … However I thank this Bishop for giving this household a dignified place.”

Renaissance Church of God in Christ has performed a central position within the metropolis’s response to Lyoya’s demise. A bunch of Black pastors in Grand Rapids referred to as the Black Clergy Coalition organized a discussion board for group dialogue on the church on April 10 and likewise hosted a press convention there final Thursday (April 14).


RELATED: Grand Rapids pastors mobilize in wake of fatal shooting of Patrick Lyoya


Civil Rights lawyer Benjamin Crump, who’s representing the Lyoya household, delivered a name to motion that implored international leaders to take discover of Lyoya’s demise. “World leaders can’t condemn Russian troopers capturing unarmed residents behind the top in Ukraine, however then refuse to sentence cops capturing unarmed Black residents in Grand Rapids, Michigan.”

Pastor Kizombo Kalumbula, a pastor at Tabernacle Group Church in Grand Rapids, launched quite a few native Congolese leaders who celebrated Lyoya’s Congolese identification and demanded justice. The service concluded with songs led by a Congolese choir. Based on Siku, a Congolese pastor who has been deciphering for the Lyoya household and who interpreted in Swahili all through the funeral, the track’s phrases meant: “Be lifted, be glorified, as a result of you’re the just one who deserves the reward, who deserves the worship, who deserves the glory.”

Sharpton and the Nationwide Motion Community, a civil rights group he based in 1991, helped cowl the price of the funeral. The civil rights chief beforehand delivered eulogies on the funerals of a number of different Black individuals killed by police violence, together with these of George Floyd, Daunte Wright, Andre Hill and Andrew Brown Jr.  


RELATED: Rev. Al Sharpton calls for justice in police killing of Valentina Orellana Peralta


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