Churchgoers upset with deacon who set up police officer

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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At least some parishioners at Mt. Vernon Missionary Baptist Church in Indianapolis say they’re unhappy with the deacon who apparently set up a staged fight between two black men designed to test the reaction of the white police officer who responded.

Geraldine Tracy, a member of the parish for 36 years, said the church’s head of youth ministry, James Harrington, went too far by staging the brawl. “I’m just shocked over it,” she told The Daily Caller by phone.

It all began when the police officer, Sgt. Matthew Grimes, was asked to give a presentation last month to a youth gathering at the Municipal Gardens activity center. When the faux fist fight broke out, Grimes was seized by severe back spasms and later hospitalized.

Geraldine Tracy said the recent police beating of a 15-year-old named Brandon Johnson has caused racial tension between the black community and the police department. “There was a riot or something had happened not too long ago, and they were trying to demonstrate with the kids if the riot occurs, this is what the police officer would do.”

Harrington could not be reached for comment, but Tracy said he’s probably in his sixties and has been at the church for years. “He’s been there for quite a while, but not as long as I have,” she said.

She said members of the church are “upset” because they “didn’t have anything to do with that.”

Tracy also said she could not recall her church ever being involved in any other type of political activism. “It was the first time we’ve heard of anything like this,” she said.

As for whether Harrington’s job is safe, she said she’s unsure, but said it will not be easy for churchgoers like her to forgive him. “I don’t know. We’re church people here at Mt. Vernon, but it’s going to be very hard for people to turn the other cheek or forgive him. It’s going to be very hard.”

The officer, she said, should have at least been told of what was going to happen, if the organizers wanted to teach youngsters about the police. “If you’re gonna have a skit or a play, everyone’s supposed to know their part,” she said. “You’re not just suppose to bring someone in there and they not know what’s going on.”