'We want peace:' Pastors organize prayer demonstration to support Milwaukee police

MILWAUKEE -- While marches for police reform crisscrossed the city, a group of pastors came together to show support for Milwaukee police through prayer on Saturday, June 20.

A small congregation sang its song at the corner of Vel Phillips and Locust. A powerful prayer in its own right, the message seemed to carry more weight in the shadow of Milwaukee Police Department District 5.

Danny Velazquez

"All the attacks have been to the policemen, and we want them to know that because someone made a mistake doesn't mean that all of them made the same mistake," said Danny Velazquez, pastor at Iglesia Nueva Vida. "We want peace, and the only way we can have peace is to love."

Velazquez brought members of Iglesia Nueva Vida to the demonstration outside District 5 as well as outside Milwaukee Police Department District 2 to show support for police officers.

Prayer demonstration to support Milwaukee police at District 5

Outside of the two stations over the last several weeks, officers have stood face to face with protesters calling for police reform following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

George Papachristou

"It seems that our officers are hearing only negative things right now. There's a lot of bad publicity. There's a lot of bad reports going on. So to hear community support is extremely important for them right now," George Papachristou, Milwaukee police chaplain, said.

It was a message received by police with open arms as they work to address community trust with faith leaders in solidarity behind them.

"This isn't a race issue. This is a human being issue. We're all human. We're all the same. Everybody should be treated equally, and everybody should be treated with dignity and respect. And that's what we aim to do," Milwaukee Police Lt. Mark Wroblewski said.

Prayer demonstration to support Milwaukee police at District 2

The pastors who organized the demonstration told FOX6 that it was just the first of a handful of public support events for police officers. They said their prayers extend beyond -- to the families of officers as well.