Police SWAT team units on an armored vehicle arrive outside the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California in this still image taken from video December 2, 2015. REUTERS/NBCLA.com/Handout via Reuters
Police SWAT team units on an armored vehicle arrive outside the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California in this still image taken from video December 2, 2015. REUTERS/NBCLA.com/Handout via Reuters

Southland religious leaders gathered Thursday with public and police officials to call for people to avoid reacting to the mass shooting in San Bernardino by lashing out or condemning any religious or ethnic groups, saying now is a time to come together as a community.

“Peace and justice will simply not descend from above,” said the Rev. Ed Bacon of All Saints Church in Pasadena. “Peace and justice comes as a result of people working in partnership and organizing across interfaith lines to say we will work for justice and we will work for peace. This is not a time to be blaming any religious or ethnic identity. This is a time for us to come together.

Bacon joined with other faith leaders and public officials at the Los Angeles headquarters of the Muslim Public Affairs Council to not only offer prayers and support for the victims of Wednesday’s shooting.

“We have great challenges before us, but I think as you see the assembly of leaders like this, we’re prepared and we believe a united front is the best answer to deal with these kinds of problems,” said Salam Al-Marayati of the MPAC. “We’re dealing with violent crime. And the fact is, several people were killed and injured yesterday and I don’t think it matters to them what the motivation is.”

Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Michael Downing, head of the department’s anti-terrorism efforts, said the shooting should also be a reminder that everyone needs to remain vigilant and speak up if they see activity that could be considered suspicious.

“We need the community’s help in any type of suspicious behavior they observe,” he said, stressing that such reporting is “not about people, not about stereotyping people,” it’s about “the behavior they’re involved in.”

“The greatest strength we have and the longer sustaining solution to this phenomenon we’re experiencing today rests with the communities, all of the communities,” he said.

Downing urged residents to take part in the iWatchLA campaign to report suspicious activity, by using the website at iWatchLA.org or by downloading the smartphone app.

“Please do it. Cooperate,” he said. “We need you to stand up and we need you to partner with us as we continue to protect our communities.”

— Wire reports 

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