At a press conference today, September 15, 2015, before a hearing on dropping the charges for the Mall of America 11, Pastor Emily Goldthwaite-Fries of Mayflower UCC and ISAIAH lead organizer, Phyllis Hill presented the following statement:

“We, ISAIAH, stand in solidarity with the wider faith community to call upon the City of Bloomington to drop charges against the Mall of America 11. Our support is rooted in our faith and in the tradition of organizing that empowers faithful people in our democracy to protest racist systems of exploitation and misery.

On December 20th, many pastors and leaders of ISAIAH participated in a non-violent peaceful demonstration, praying for Black Lives everywhere, particularly those families who had lost loved ones to police brutality. It was just before Christmas; a celebration of birth, yet we stood in the midst of a string of Black deaths right here in our own communities – deaths of men, women, even children. As a prophetic people, we kept vigil for their threatened lives, honored to stand with those who sought justice, as we anticipated the coming of the one called Emmanuel – “God with us.”

It is in the spirit of Jesus’ gospel of nonviolence that we stand here together again, for we follow the one who came to proclaim Good News to the poor and freedom for the prisoners and to set the oppressed free!

We must mourn and raise the consciousness of a distracted society possessed by individualism, materialism, and greed. This is our moral calling as a prophetic people. We stand with the Mall of America 11 whose voices are being silenced as they are acting within the tradition of the prophets of old.

Throughout the history of America, faith movements have always been at the forefront of peaceful nonviolent civil disobedience to effect social and racial change. The face of America would look vastly different without the nonviolent protest and civil disobedience led by Dr. Martin Luther King and other civil rights leaders in the 1950s and 60s.

As a faith movement dedicated to racial and economic justice in Minnesota, ISAIAH stands with any group or movement who seeks to peacefully better the lives of those who disproportionately bear the weight of unequal justice.

Let’s be clear: The silencing of the Mall of America 11 is our loss. Our silence is our shame. Black Lives must MATTER to the church, and we stand as an organization against the silencing of those voices who seek to do good, seek to do justice, and seek the kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven!

YES, we stand with our leaders and pastors who participated at Mall of America demonstration! YES, we stand with those who have been unfairly charged! And we are here to call on NO MORE destruction of brown and black bodies through mass incarceration and deportation!

This move to incarcerate and prosecute protesters is yet another example of the crisis in Minnesota, and a full-scale reform agenda is needed to dismantle the system of criminalization. Right now, as we speak, our elected officials are talking about expanding state prisons or opening a for profit prison. WE SAY NO MORE PRISONS.

We, as people of faith, believe profiting on the misery and imprisonment of God’s people is morally abhorrent. We refuse to allow our tax dollars to be invested in human profiteering. Instead, we will work with our state’s leaders and community groups to ensure we invest together in policies and systems that promote the well-being of African Americans in Minnesota. These investments include more resources in education, mental health, addiction treatment, and jobs. We must invest in a Minnesota that reflects the truth of who we are – beloved children of God.”