NewsPinellas County


St. Pete pastor pushes for racial justice through marquee

"I wanted to use it when I got here as an extension of the pulpit"
allendale george floyd sign.jpg
Posted at 5:19 AM, May 25, 2021

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The death of George Floyd sparked an even deeper push for police reform across the country.

The Tampa Bay area joined millions of people in the fight against injustice.

St. Pete pastor Rev. Andy Oliver was one of them.

For five years he's led a previously predominantly white congregation at Allendale United Methodist Church. He wanted to create more inclusion and he used his marquee outside the church to do that.

"I wanted to use it when I got here as an extension of the pulpit," Oliver said.

After the death of Floyd, he took to the marque. In black and white, he created a statement that is anything but.

"George Floyd was lynched today but the police. We can't breathe."

It's an action that hasn't garnered everyone's support.

"Certainly, there are people in the community who are always going to get upset. I get voicemails and emails and I offer to meet with anyone who wants to talk," Oliver said.

On the year mark of Floyd's death, two more names line the marque.

The names are those of black men that continue to raise questions and outrage about the actions of the police.

"When I got here this was something my congregation had never talked about. We have grown together and the way that we have grown is by listening to the stories of people from marginalized communities," Oliver said.