Clergy members across the country have a message for the North Miami Beach Police Department in response to using mugshots of black men for target practice: Use me instead.
The #UseMeInstead social media movement took off after a bullet-riddled image of six black men was found by one of the men’s sisters at a Medley gun range. The image sparked national outrage.
North Miami Beach Police Chief J. Scott Dennis has since clarified that the police department also used images of white and Hispanic individuals. He said there was no racial profiling involved, and the department has ended the practice of using real mugshots for target practice.
Dennis recently apologized in-person to residents in Washington Park, one of the city's predominantly African-American neighborhoods. Many of those residents did not accept his apology.
And although the city released a 14-page public statement on the matter with photos of a diverse array of mugshots, the public backlash has not waned.
On Facebook and Twitter, mostly white religious leaders from across different denominations are posting their photos--some in clerical gear --urging North Miami Beach to “use me instead.”
Chelsie Maynard, a minister and social worker from Boston Massachusetts posted this message to the North Miami Beach Police Department on the Facebook page, "North Miami Beach Police Use Our Photos For Target Practice."
“I cannot imagine the stress that you all face everyday…but I cannot stand by and allow individuals of a particular race to be targeted. If you must use pictures of real people for target practice, please #usemeinstead.”
Mike Kinman, an Episcopal priest in St. Louis, MO wrote, “When you shoot at my sisters and brothers, you shoot at me ... so please, if you must use pictures for target practice, use mine also.”
According to the Facebook page, North Miami Beach Police Use Our Photos For Target Practice, the pictures posted will be printed and mailed out to the North Miami Beach Police Department.
North Miami Beach police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
North Miami Beach Councilwoman Barbara Kramer said she was not aware of the #UseMeInstead push on social media, but she said it's unlikely the police department will ever use "a real face" for target practice again.
"It was such a drastic error," said Kramer, " Thanks so much for the offer, but we're not interested in using anyone's real face."
See some of the #UseMeInstead tweets below: