SCLC leader calls for protection of family and property

A Georgia civil rights activist says nonviolence isn't helping after a series of killings of unarmed black men by police.

Rev. Samuel Mosteller, president of Georgia's chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, made the comments at a press conference on Tuesday, in the wake of the most recent shooting death--the March 24 killing of 23-year-old Nicholas Thomas by a Smyrna police sergeant, Kenneth Owens.

"I'm going to ask that every family avail themselves of their Second Amendment right, which is a full American right," said Mosteller, "because we're tired now."

The SCLC was founded in 1958 by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to advocate nonviolent social change, a fact that Mosteller acknowledged.

"You know the SCLC stands for nonviolence," said Mosteller. "But nonviolence hasn't worked in this instance."

Yet Mosteller says he is not calling for people to go around packing weapons.

"Do you have to avail yourself of carrying a weapon to avail yourself of the Second Amendment?  The answer is no, you don't have to.  Okay?" said Mosteller.

Rev. Mosteller says he means people should avail themselves of their right to defend themselves, their families, and property.

"We're going to have to do something in our community to let the rest of America know that we are not going to be victimized by just anybody, whether it be police or folks that decide that 'Oh, black people are thugs and we need to control that black community.'  We're not going to allow that anymore,"  he said.

Dr. Charles Steele, the national president of the SCLC, tells WSB that the group will never advocate violence.

"Undebatably, we believe in peace and nonviolence," said Dr. Steele.

He says that he called Mosteller to get him to clarify his comments when he heard reports of what Mosteller had said.

"He denied that he said that," said Steele.  "He did talk about the protection of family and property, but in no form or fashion did he say that we should go and pick up our guns and take to violence."

Saying the police and justice system have sometimes failed black citizens nationwide, Mosteller also called for the ouster of the top cop in any jurisdiction in which another unarmed man is shot.

"The next time a black man, unarmed, is shot by the police, we're going to target the sheriffs for recall.  We're going to try to recall the sheriff in that county.  Why the sheriff?  Because the sheriff is the constitutional officer in every county," he said.

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