Community Voices

Neighbors in Religion: Harsh words for police who used black faces for target practice

Florida Army National Guard Sgt. Valerie Deant found this photo lineup, which included an old mugshot of her brother, in the trash at the shooting range.
Florida Army National Guard Sgt. Valerie Deant found this photo lineup, which included an old mugshot of her brother, in the trash at the shooting range. NBC6

When I saw the story about the North Miami Beach Police Department using pictures of young black men as target practice, I could only think: “What were they thinking?”

We say we are a community that is trying hard to promote racial harmony. But when something like this happens, I wonder. Shooting at the faces of human beings of any race or nationality is bad. But with the tensions running hot and high between blacks and police officers, it would seem that good, old common sense should have kicked in for North Miami Beach Police Chief J. Scott Dennis, before allowing the sharpshooters to practice on the pictures of blacks.

In all due respect, I am aware that Dennis has suspended the city of North Miami Beach’s sniper training program to “conduct a thorough review of our training process and materials” as he was quoted in the Miami Herald on Saturday.

What’s to review? You don’t know yet, Chief Dennis, that the training you suspended was wrong? What targets will you use next?

I want, with all of my heart, to believe that there was no racial profiling intended by using the pictures of blacks in the training of the sharpshooters. But as a black woman who remembers the days when the Ku Klux Klan seemed to rule the South (and parts of the North, too) I am reminded of the hanging in effigy of blacks, which often led to actual lynchings.

There are no accidents nor incidents with God. Therefore, I believe that it was the Lord, who led Florida Army National Guard Sgt. Valerie Deant to “peer” into a stack of garbage at the Medley shooting range and see a photo of her brother with bullet holes in his face and head. I can only imagine how shocked and appalled she was at the finding.

Was there a subliminal message being passed on to the sharpshooters, that a black man’s life has no value? And that to really take him out, aim high — for the head and face?

I know my words must seem extra harsh to some of you. But as a black mother and grandmother, I feel that I must always be vigilant. I can’t run the risk of brushing this off as a harmless incident. As a matter of fact, this whole incident makes me very nervous.

It also makes me wonder if it had ever been considered to use a group of young white men’s photos for target practice.

They arrest white men, too, don’t they?

Pilgrimage on Roe v. Wade anniversary

It sure doesn’t seem so, but this year marks the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court case that legalized abortions.

To mark the occasion, 100 high school students and their teacher-chaperones will join 30 youth and young adult leaders from the Archdiocese of Miami in the “March for Life” pilgrimage in Washington.

According to an Archdiocese news release, the Miami group will join with thousands of other Catholics from across the country. They will consist of representatives from the following Archdiocese of Miami parishes and organizations: Notre Dame d’Haiti; Divine Providence; Immaculate Conception; Our Lady of Lourdes; and Encuentros Juveniles (Youth Encounters).

In addition, the Respect Life Ministry of the Archdiocese of Miami, under the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has launched “9 Days for Life,” a period of prayer, penance and pilgrimage across the country. The nine-day stated Saturday and will end on Jan. 25.

A local “Walk for Life” was held Saturday at several Dade and Broward locations. A final walk begins 9 a.m. Saturday at St. John Vianney College Seminary, 2900 SW 87th Ave. in Miami. A Mass will be at 9 a,m., with the walk to follow. A minimum donation of $10 per person is requested of participants.

The funds raised will be donated to the nearest Pregnancy Help center, which provides spiritual and material support to women who choose to keep their unborn babies.

For more information on the March for Life Pilgrimage, call Rosemarie Banich at 305-762-1189 or email For information on the Respect for Life Ministry call Joan Crown at 954-981-2922 or email

Annual Lebanese Festival in Miami

The 38th annual Lebanese Festival will be from Friday through Sunday in the Anthony and Genevieve Abraham Banquet Hall at Our Lady of Lebanon Catholic Church, 2055 Coral Way in Miami.

The festival will be from 6 p.m. Friday to 1 a.m. Saturday; from 6 p.m. Saturday to 2 a.m. Sunday; and from noon to 11 p.m. Sunday.

The colorful and fun-filled event will feature authentic and, I’m told, delicious cuisine and sweets. There will also be a Lebanese arts and crafts bazaar, live music each day, folk dances and different shows, as well as a children’s Sunday fun day to be hosted by Norma Jean Abraham. Sunday’s events will also include a raffle with grand prizes.

Tickets are $5 each. For more information, contact the church at 305-856-7449 or go to

Shabbat Under the Stars

Temple Beth El in Hollywood, invites you to a Shabbat Under the Stars at 5:30 p.m. Friday.

The synagogue is at 1351 S. 14th Ave. in Hollywood. For more information contact the temple at 954-920-8225 or go to its website

Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Religion Notes, c/o Neighbors, 2000 NW 150th Ave., Suite 1105, Pembroke Pines, FL 33028, fax it to 954-538-7018 or email Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.