Julian Lowe, the lead pastor of Oasis L.A. in Koreatown, posted the message on Instagram in reaction to the death of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and the criticisms that emerged about the way people were protesting.
"The reality is, we need to stop critiquing the way that people protest. I believe that if we do this, if we actually embrace what's happening to our brothers and sisters of color, and we raise our voices and not critique their protests, I believe we can see change in this country. If not immediately, definitely in the future," Lowe said in the video, which received over 20,000 views.
The protests sparked by Arbery's death received criticism even though they weren't violent. But in the wake of the in-custody death of George Floyd in Minnesota, which did lead to violence, Lowe's message still holds up.
"I am absolutely not for violent protests," Lowe told Eyewitness News. "What I mean by that statement is that we need to have solidarity, we need to understand that racism in this country is a real problem and before we critique a person of color kneeling or they're holding a sign that says Black Lives Matter... we need to understand their pain and we need to understand that this is a deep-rooted problem in our nation."
When society begins to define how protests should take place, Lowe believes it dilutes the message of the protest itself.
"I have yet to see a person of color protest in a way that society (deems) acceptable, all the way to Martin Luther King... he was very not well-liked at all during his day for his disruption to the status quo and the norm," he said.
However, Lowe says, demonstrators have to be careful not to protest from a "deficit."
"A deficit of peace, a deficit of love and a deficit of hope. I honestly believe the African American is losing hope that there can be change in this country. What I value maybe most about Martin Luther King is that he protested with a deep conviction and belief in his heart that this country would see change, even if it didn't come in his lifetime," he said.
Lowe is encouraging non-violent protests that are practiced "with a deep conviction and hope in your heart that this country will live by the values that it professes to have."