Dozens of people attended a “stop the hate” vigil at Edmonds United Methodist Church Wednesday night, standing in solidarity for the George Floyd family.
Floyd, a Black man, died May 25, 2020, after Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer, knelt on his neck for almost 10 minutes, causing national and worldwide protests. Chauvin was found guilty of both murder and manslaughter April 20 and will be sentenced sometime next month.
With the theme, “where’s there’s people, there’s power,” the vigil was held outdoors on church grounds with social distancing in effect, and included outdoor activities based on understanding and ending racism.
After opening the vigil with the song We Shall Overcome, Edmonds United Methodist Church Pastor Ann Jacob invited those in attendance to share their feelings by leaving comment on one or all of three tables, which were labeled “lamenting,” “with longing I hope to forgive” and “I commit to.”
The enthusiastic crowd, while maintaining a safe distance, went from table to table and wrote down their thoughts and feelings about systemic racism, police reform, healing hearts and pledging to work on forgiving those who harm innocent lives. On the “commit to” board, most said they will take a public stand for Black lives and all oppressed people.
“I’m deeply grateful to each of you showing up today, because what it shows me is safety, it shows me a marker of bravery, it shows me the courage to say no more violence, no more hate,” Jacob said. “So, I hope you know that your presence tonight, your commitment to showing up, is a great deal of love embodied.”
Jacob was one of four local church representatives who spoke Wednesday evening, denouncing the events that happened to George Floyd and countless others in cities and states all over America.
Rachel Maxwell of the Edmonds Unitarian Universalist Congregation shared a poem by Ross Gay called A Small Needful Fact, about Earl Garner, a black man killed by a police officer in Staten Island, New York in 2014. “The officer who killed Garner was never indicted” Maxwell said, “and was fired from his job in 2019, more than five years after he killed Garner.”
Pastor Chris Boyer of Lynnwood’s Good Shepherd Church described the important work “of standing alongside the victims of police violence, standing alongside the victims of oppression of all kinds.”
Edmonds Lutheran Church Pastor Tim Oleson said that church members “stand in solidary with you and with all people working for a most just society. I commit as a leader in this community to continue to lead my congregation in their work and in the things that we can do so that we don’t have to have many more vigils like this.”
Also speaking Wednesday night was Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson. “I haven’t been out much because of COVID,” he said, “but this was something I felt very strongly to come out and see all of you and stand with you. I really want to thank whoever wrote about wanting to forgive because I’m working on forgiving those in power for not taking action.”
The mayor added that he wanted those who are Black and brown to feel safe. “I don’t want anybody to have to be at a traffic stop and feel as though they are going to die,” Nelson said.
— Story and photos by Misha Carter