For many people, the abrupt arrival of civil and social unrest amid the COVID-19 pandemic and recent wave of protests was a striking wakeup call. For Pastor Gilford Monrose and the 67th Precinct Clergy Council (less formally known as “The God Squad”), the breadth of seemingly new challenges, especially in relation to the existing gun violence problem, was simply another day at the office.
“Everything is intertwined. From police action to reform to COVID-19, all of this is intertwined to the violence that we see,” said Pastor Monrose. “People don’t realize that this affects us in different ways and in different communities. I think now we are seeing that played out before our very own eyes. If we have been constantly on the street working with young people, working with different groups being on the ground and then you pull away police support, clergy support, safety net support for 190 days, basically the void that you had that’s holding back the violence, that void is now gone.”