Fresno Pastor who helped keep peace at protest wants people to spread message the right way

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Fresno pastor trying to bring peace to the Black Lives Matter protests said he wants the message of injustice brought to light "the right way".

With hundreds marching for justice during Saturday's Black Lives Matter protest, one pastor stood in the crowd also bringing the message of peace.

Pastor D. J. Criner with the Saint Rest Baptist Center said he heard about the protest and called other area clergies on what they should do to help. He said the answer was simple: to be seen and help get the message of injustice heard peacefully.

"We wanted to make sure we heard people first and offered our support to them to let them know that we not only hear you but can touch you in this moment."

Pastor Criner said both he and other local religious organizations hoped to serve as a line of serenity between protestors and police.

"When the protestors began to march, a couple of clergies-- we walked in front of them to ensure safety between officers and protesters. And engaging with a couple of officers to ensure that nothing outrageous would occur."

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said Criner's help did not go unnoticed.

"There were some in that group filled with anger, filled with hate, and they wanted something different. Fortunately, we had Pastor Criner out there and a couple other people that were able to keep calming."

Now, Pastor Criner is in Dallas for a conference but said he hopes to talk to both protesters and families affected by the recent shooting.

He said he stands for speaking out, but hopes it's done right.

"I just want to make sure that my African American brothers and sister, my Christian brothers and sisters despite the color of their skin, and my citizens of Fresno, are able to understand the pain people are in and are able to express that pain in a peaceful manner."
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