ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA)- When passing Allendale United Methodist Church in St. Petersburg, their marquee will catch your eye. You won’t find a biblical versus or even their next service time, instead you’ll find the church taking a political stance.
The Haines Road church’s latest sign says, “George Floyd was lynched today by the police. We can’t breathe!” The other side of the marquee reads “White Supremacy: The most dangerous virus infecting our country since 1492.”
“George Floyd should still be alive today,” said Allendale’s Pastor, Rev. Andy Oliver. “I immediately came out here to change our sign to remind St. Petersburg that a man named George Floyd was lynched yesterday by the police and this will continue until we stand up as a community, as people who look like me, white people, allies, stand up to demand that this type of police brutality stops.”
Allendale’s latest message comes on the heels of the death of George Floyd, a black man who died while being arrested by Minneapolis police. Video of the Monday night incident shows a white police officer with his knee on Floyd’s neck, as Floyd pleaded, “Please, please, please, I can’t breathe.” Minutes later, Floyd goes silent. He was later pronounced dead.
Since his passing, there has been widespread outrage and unrest in Minneapolis. The four Minneapolis officers involved in Floyd’s arrest have been fired.
“I woke up yesterday to the video, eight minutes of a police officer applying deadly force to someone even after they were unconscious,” Oliver said. “It was the worst video I have ever seen in my life.”
According to Allendale United Methodist Church’s website, they ‘practice Christ’s example of unconditional love without exclusion.’
“I’ve been a pastor here for the last four years and we have been committed to the work of anti-racism and being in solidarity for anyone who is at the margins,” Oliver said. “When we are standing with those on the margins, we are standing where God stood…as followers of Jesus, that is the only right way for us to practice church.”
The church has become a safe haven for many in the LGBTQ community. The house of worship has used their platform to fight all forms of social injustice in the past including: violence against the transgender community, the deaths of other black men in police custody, white supremacy, and Trump’s immigration detention centers.
Oliver tells WFLA.com their latest sign is just another reaction and response to hatred and inhumanity.
“We have been preaching on this for the last three weeks since Ahmaud Arbery,” Oliver said. “We have been preaching about it before then. The simple fact is racism hasn’t gotten worse, it’s simply being filmed. It’s sad commentary it took videos to be able to change the conscious of churches that have remained silent for too long.”