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The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) condemns the heinous act of pure hatred that took the lives of three innocent people in Jacksonville, Fla., on Saturday, August 26, 2023. Our prayers are with the families of Anolt “AJ” Laguerre Jr., Jerrald De’Shaun Gallion, and Angela Michelle Carr, as they mourn their loved ones.

Unfortunately, the murder of innocent people while they are conducting simple daily routines — grocery shopping, going to the movies, attending worship services, sitting in a classroom, and other normal activities — is now commonplace in America. Nevertheless, the normalization of hate fueled acts is abhorrent.

We must never underestimate or ignore the threat posed to all Americans, especially Black Americans and other people of color, by the prevalence of white supremacy and the ease with which supremacists and other perpetrators of hate can access weapons designed to kill as quickly, efficiently, and destructively as possible.

“Racism is not just an issue for black and brown people,” says NCC President and General Secretary Bishop Vashti McKenzie. “We need to enact and enforce legislation that targets systemic racism. Change happens when we become allies working together for change instead of working on each other.”

At its May 2023 meeting, the NCC Governing Board adopted a resolution calling for a “ban on all assault weapons and other weapons of war that have infiltrated our communities.” NCC maintains its demand that Congress take action to protect lives, especially those in marginalized communities that are most at risk from the volatile combination of racially motivated violent extremism and easily accessible, military grade tools of death.

“We are in a state of emergency,” says Bishop Teresa Snorton, Chair of NCC’s Governing Board. “We call on all elected officials at the highest levels to do what is necessary to protect all citizens from these acts of domestic terrorism.”

NCC calls on all people of good will to become more aware of how racist acts against humanity and the suffering they cause show up in neighborhoods and communities across our nation, and then work assiduously towards the equality and dignity of all people.