Local Black Clergy prepare for strong reactions to verdicts in Rittenhouse, McMichael trials

"I'm not fearful that justice won't be served, but I want to be prepared just in case," said Reverend Robert Collier.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Reverend Robert Collier has been watching more television than usual lately.

He's been keeping a close eye on the trials of Kyle Rittenhouse, who is accused of killing two people during protests in Wisconsin, and Travis McMichael, accused of killing jogger Ahmad Arbery in Georgia. Both trials have captured the attention of the country as people wait with bated breath on verdicts in each case.

"I'm not fearful that justice won't be served, but I want to be prepared just in case," said Collier, who is president of the organization Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity.

While some clergy members are watching the trial on their screens, others are present for the trial of Travis McMichael. Six Black clergy members from the Philadelphia area traveled to Georgia. Thursday, they participated in a rally calling for justice for Ahmad Arbery.

"We have been here on the grounds of the courthouse today. Listening to speakers, offering prayer," said Bishop Dwayne Royster, executive director of POWER Interfaith.

He said that one person with his group was able to get into the overflow room for Thursday's court proceedings. They are among the hundreds of black clergy members who came from across the country after an attorney for McMichael voiced opposition to other high-profile Black clergy members being in the courtroom.

"Part of the reason we were here was one of the defense attorneys called out both Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev. Jesse Jackson for being present with the family (of Arbery) and really critiqued the presence of Black clergy," said Royster.

"We're not coming there to be disruptive. We're coming to be supportive," said Collier.

Now, members of Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity have turned their attention to what to do if the verdicts, in either case, cause a strong reaction in the local community.

"We're ready, willing and able to do what we need to do to be sure the people of Philadelphia don't riot," said Collier adding that local pastors are ready to deploy to area neighborhoods to keep things calm.

Philadelphia is also prepared. In a statement to Action News, police said there are no planned protests or threats of violence at the moment. But the department will be ready if ay situation arises.

"The PPD is prepared to activate with additional personnel throughout the city in the coming days if needed. The safety and well-being of Philadelphians are our top priority, and we will continue to monitor the situation," the statement read.

Clergy members will also continue to monitor the situation. They'll be watching and praying for peace.

"We have things in place," said Coller. "It's just a matter of whether or not we have to utilize it."
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