Hopes Dashed at Gang Summit

What began as a hope for the future ended in confusion and frustration at the first National Urban Peace and Justice Summit, which brought 126 gang members from 26 cities together for three days last month in Kansas City, Missouri.

Organizers—headed by Carl Upchurch, head of Progressive Prisons’ Movement in Newark, Ohio, and by local pastors Mac Charles Jones and Sam Mann—had hoped the event would be a beginning to a lasting truce. But the youths, unaccustomed to dealing with press attention, labeled police and the media as oppressors, closing sessions to the public and canceling scheduled news conferences. At the end, participants demanded the immediate creation of 500,000 jobs, a monitoring committee made up of minorities to investigate police brutality cases, and a halt to use of police dogs.

Some religious leaders expressed concern, both that gang members received access to schools and that participants, meeting at Saint Stephen Baptist Church, received no exposure to the Christian message. In fact, Mann preached what was, by some accounts, a too-inclusive sermon about God’s kingdom. “I am so glad that when I get to glory, there are going to be some Muslims in there,” said Mann. “I am so glad that when I peer into glory there are going to be some Buddhists in there.”

By Alicia Chai in Kansas City.

No Ban on Gay Student Body Officers

A proposed ban on homosexuals holding student office was defeated in a 635-to-475 student vote on May 19 at Bremerton High School in Washington State.

“The Bible is clear about homosexuality,” says Michael Mercer, a 17-year-old, born-again Christian who helped draft the amendment to the student constitution. “If a man sleeps with another man as a ...

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