A pro-police group caravan of cars and motorcycles took an unwelcome detour during their Blue Lives Matter ride on Sunday by making a stop at a predominately Black church in Texas that the pastor compared to a Ku Klux Klan rally. The so-called “Back the Blue” group purportedly took a rest stop on the campus of Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas, where hours later the church had already scheduled its own Black Lives Matter rally.
Police said that the Blue Lives Matter group organizers got permission to visit the Friendship-West Baptist Church campus, local news outlet WFAA reported. However, the church’s senior pastor, Frederick Douglass Haynes III, unequivocally condemned what he said was an unauthorized visit by about 1,000 vehicles to the campus.
Haynes said in a two-part statement on Twitter that the Blue Lives Matter rally was “not approved by me.” He added that people who were contacted at Friendship-West Baptist Church “were lied to” about the event, which did not match with “what they were told was going to take place.”
Haynes said the pro-police group was led by a Black person — something he called “really sad” — and featured Confederate and flags promoting Donald Trump, two things “that ain’t welcome on the campus of Friendship-West.”
Haynes then directly addressed the Blue Lives Matter leadership in no uncertain terms.
“At this point, if you ain’t saying Black lives matter, you might as well have a Klan rally,” he said. “Because in the age of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd: if you are not as police officers and persons who claim you support policing, if you ain’t declaring Black lives matter and restructuring your departments to reinvest in communities, then as far as I’m, concerned it’s a Klan rally.”
Haynes said the Blue Lives Matter group didn’t get a chance to complete their rally because church leadership intervened.
Watch Hayne’s brief statements below.
Friendship-West Baptist Church also posted footage from the Blue Lives Matter rally to its Facebook page, showing the extent of the pro-police group’s attempted takeover of the church’s property.
Later in the day, Friendship-West Baptist Church’s approved Black Lives Matter rally held by a group of undertakers went on as scheduled, Haynes said. “That’s what my staff approved,” he said in a separate Twitter video. He called the Blue Lives Matter rally “an act of intimidation” that was inspired by “the racist commander in chief in Washington, D.C.”
The tension between police departments across the country has been at a fever pitch since the brazen killing of Floyd in Minneapolis on Memorial Day. That and other senseless police killings of Black people sparked months of protests against racism that still persist. It also prompted somewhat of a racial reckoning still unfolding around the world.
Part of the demands that came from the protests has been to defund police departments and reinvest that funding into the communities they police. That was an integral part of Hayne’s message to Blue Lives Matter on Sunday.
“You want your [blue] lives to matter?” he asked. “Then that’s what you do: you invest in our community instead of trying to intimidate our community, because we ain’t the ones to be intimidated.”