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Distrust keeps wounds open

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KICKED OUT: White pastor David Moose was asked to leave a community meeting by an all-black crowd.
  • KICKED OUT: White pastor David Moose was asked to leave a community meeting by an all-black crowd.

Though racial “reconciliation” and “healing” are words that are much bandied about in West Memphis concerning the DeAunta Farrow tragedy, action seems in short supply. In fact, only a small handful of whites attended DeAunta's funeral, including the Rev. David Moose, 13-year pastor of Rosewood United Methodist Church.

But when Moose tried to attend a meeting of the “Concerned Pastors and Citizens” that was advertised as open to the public, the all-black crowd asked him to leave and called the West Memphis police to make sure he did. The group has been vocal in its reaction to the tragedy and has offered numerous suggestions for improving relations with the police.

The black community's distrust of Moose stems from his close association with West Memphis Mayor Bill Johnson (Moose is his pastor). But Moose is one of those rare individuals who feels called to try to reach across racial lines. Not only had Moose attended the funeral and a street-naming ceremony for DeAunta Farrow, he had written a letter of condolence to his mother.

Humiliating one of the few white individuals who wants to actively work for racial reconciliation hardly seems designed to heal racial wounds. Rather, it is an unfortunate indication of the powerlessness felt by the black community in Crittenden County.

Lorraine Robinson, an African American alderman in West Memphis, has recently been reported as saying, “If we could just compromise on something, even one thing, it would help. It would be a start.”

Moose and others organized a “Goodwill Gathering” on the Martin Luther King Day holiday Jan. 21. Nearly 50 people attended, but the majority was white, according to a reporter for the Evening Times newspaper in West Memphis.

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