PHOENIX - In the wake of the racial hatred displayed by white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia on Saturday, here in the Valley, community leaders invited everyone to unite for a “Phoenix Against Hate” prayer vigil.
Hundreds of people gathered at the Phillips Memorial C.M.E. Church in Phoenix to process what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, not only for a prayer vigil, but also for a community conversation.
Jeff and Victoria Caine attended, because they have a personal connection to Charlottesville.
Their sister-in-law Brittany took part in the silent protest.
“She’s here marching literally on the front lines in Charlottesville with other pastors, other clergy members, people of other faiths, and they’re all linking arms,” Jeff said.
“Thankfully they got out before the car crash, so they made it out safe, but they knew people who were involved,” Victoria said.
They’re now grieving the victim.
“I cried a few times a few times, because I was just thinking about, just why is this happening and why do we still have to experience this so long after civil rights?” she said.
The crowd so large, it spilled out on to the streets.
“It means that, in the end, love wins. It means that, in the end, we are not going to stand silently. We are not going to allow hatred to take over,” said Rev. Reginald Walton, Black Lives Matter Phoenix Chairperson.
“Racists are not welcome here,” said Ben Steele, who attended the prayer vigil.
“My message is for everyone out there who is angry about the situation, to use that anger and to channel it into direct action – to show up,” said Dr. Angeles Maldonado of the Institute for Border Crit Theory. “It’s no longer OK to take a passive position.”
Everyone who attended took action against racial and ethnic hatred.
“You see from the outpouring of love from the outpouring support, from the outpouring of attendance that people are tired and we cannot allow political affiliations, we cannot allow skin color, we cannot allow socioeconomic status to divide us, but we’re all Americans and we’re all God’s children,” said Rev. Walton.
“We will not see this in Phoenix. I think you will see more of a gathering of people against hate than people for it with their little small tiki torches, so the light of us being together and the light of Christ is so much brighter than the tiki torch that will blow out,” said lead pastor Warren Stewart Jr. of Remnant South Phoenix.
Leaders at the church are asking everyone to use the hashtag #PhxAgainstHate to post message of love and support on social media.