Minneapolis clergy, including Archbishop Bernard Hebda of St. Paul-Minneapolis, participated in a silent walking protest Tuesday afternoon to the spot where George Floyd died in police custody last week, stopping to pray at the memorial that had been set up for him.
Hundreds of local leaders from Christian denominations and other religious traditions were present for the prayerful event.
“While many faiths were represented, there was great unity as we prayed for justice and peace,” Archbishop Hebda said in a tweet Tuesday.
It was a great privilege to pray alongside faith leaders #stpfaithleadersforjustice in our communities today both in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. While many faiths were represented, there was great unity as we prayed for justice and peace. pic.twitter.com/q9ULUGeu3V
— Bernard Hebda (@ArchbishopHebda) June 2, 2020
Archbishop Hebda had offered a Mass for the soul of George Floyd and for his family May 27.
Other Catholic clergy present included Father Kevin Finnegan, pastor of Our Lady of Grace Parish southwest of the city. Father Finnegan was glad to see Archbishop Hebda at the protest, though “he was not at all the center of attention.”
“I ended up being “up front” for the prayer part...not where I intended,” Finnegan told CNA in an email.
“But a [great] place to ask God to grace our community.”
Dozens of cities across the country have seen widespread protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd. Some protests have turned to nights of rioting, or conflicts with police. At least five people have died amid the protests.
In the video of the May 25 arrest, an officer with the Minneapolis Police Department can be seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck for several minutes after the man was taken into custody. Floyd could be heard saying “I can’t breathe” several times. Floyd died soon after.
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was arrested May 29, and has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. He and the three other officers present at Floyd’s arrest were fired from the Minneapolis Police Department.
Catholics across the Twin Cities have called for justice and unity in the wake of Floyd’s death.
Hundreds join Mpls clergy on silent march to block where George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police officer. Diverse crowd prayed at memorial that has become sacred ground. pic.twitter.com/zZUgIPxIKP
— maury glover (@maurygloverFOX9) June 2, 2020
“The love of God, revealed in Jesus Christ, clearly shows us that we are all children of one God, and that we are all equally subjects of Christ our King, in the Kingdom of God our Father. We are all brothers and sisters,” Fr. Erich Rutten, pastor of St. Peter Claver Parish in St. Paul, said in a YouTube message May 27.
“This particular case is so egregious, that it’s just maddening,” Rutten— who shepherds the largest African-American Catholic community in the Twin Cities— told CNA.
“Our faith calls us way beyond racism, into a radical unity, in the Kingdom of God. A Kingdom we're all brothers and sisters. I mean truly: Really brothers and sisters,” he said.
St. Albert the Great Parish, located in the Longfellow neighborhood, sheltered 34 neighbors as riots destroyed surrounding businesses and damaged homes the night of May 28. Less than a mile from the church, thousands of protesters gathered to burn the Minneapolis Third Police Precinct, many of them inflicting violence on the surrounding area as well.
The Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis sustained fire damage May 29 amid riots in the city, and graffiti was found on the Church of St. Mark in St. Paul, over two miles away from the heart of the violence.