Memphis families create yard signs for justice

Updated: Jun. 12, 2020 at 4:07 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Two Memphis families are sending a sign of solidarity after learning about the recent killings of black people due to police violence and racism.

Like many black families over the last few weeks, the Ellises have had to have some tough dinner table discussions with their kids about race.

“They have questions like ‘Mom, why is this happening?’ or ‘Why don’t they just like us for us?,'” Jauna Ellis said.

After seeing the videos of Ahmaud Arbery gunned down in the street by strangers while jogging, learning that Breonna Taylor was shot eight times by police while she was sleeping in her own bed, and seeing George Floyd beg for his life as a police officer knelt on his neck, it is hard not to wonder why?

"'Dad why did no one stop the police from doing that?' Having to explain that to a 9-year-old is probably one of the most difficult parent experiences that I've had," Calvin Ellis said.

But those difficult conversations have not only been happening in the homes of black families.

The Wepfers, friends of the Ellises who happen to be white, are having them too.

“The videos online graphically depicting the injustice that’s going on around the country, it’s hard to not respond,” said John Wepfer.

So they started asking what could they do to respond.

"I've been praying a lot and I've just felt led to make these signs," said Lucy Wepfer.

The yard signs she made bare the names of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd.

The Ellises picked one up and took it to social media. Now nearly 400 have been given out.

The families have even spent their days together, sitting side-by-side on the sidewalk handing them out.

Under the names of Arbery, Taylor, and Floyd, there is a bible verse.

“Amos 5:24. ‘Let justice roll down like waters,’” said John Wepfer.

It is a message that they hope fills the streets of Memphis.

"We would love for us to drive in any part of town and be able to see this representation that connects us all," said Calvin Ellis

The families have also set up a website for people to request a sign. Those interested can visit the site here.

It is called the Amos 5:24 Initiative with a mission statement that says:

"The Amos 5:24 Initiative focuses on providing a faith-based, visual awareness to the social and racial injustices currently challenging our community and nation. We are centered in the understanding that all men are created in the image of God, and we are committed to standing in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who experience such wrongdoing.

Our goal is to provide opportunities for people within communities to engage tangibly in this effort."

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