WASHINGTON - A historic congregation in Virginia gathered hundreds of its members and supporters early Sunday morning for a march to Lafayette Park as the nation reels from another fatal police shooting.
Sunday marked the 17th straight day of anti-police brutality protests in the District in the wake of George’s Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis.
Although early, the passion propelling those to demonstrate on Sunday was strong. One father FOX 5 spoke to said he came with his family from Ashburn, Virginia to participate.
The “Prayer Walk for Peace and Justice” that made its way to Black Lives Matter Plaza after 7 a.m. Sunday morning was organized by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture(NMAAHC) notes this church is one of the country’s oldest African American congregations.
Members and supporters gathered outside of the museum around 6 am. Sunday and walked to Lafayette Park outside the White House.
The park served as the backdrop for a massive outdoor prayer service.
Hundreds of people could be seen, stretching at least two-blocks down.
Stephanie Gidigbi of Congress Heights told FOX 5 she has been demonstrating for the past two weeks and described how this walk was different.
"Seeing how President Trump had used the church and the use of the Bible to demonstrate harm to people, so it was a moment for God’s people to come out and really speak out about what’s happening,” Gidigbi said.
“We believe in the power of prayer. And we’ve seen a lot of protest and marches. But we wanted to focus this one exclusively on prayer, recognizing that while we have authorities here on earth, God is ultimately in control,” said Youmans, an Alfred Street Baptist Church Administrator.
The march also arrived less than two days after the police-involved killing of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta.
“We’ve had a small discussion because it’s fresh, compared to what’s happened to George Floyd,” said a father with his family Sunday.
FOX 5 asked Gidigbi what she was thinking about in the wake of the Atlanta investigation. She said it’s time for people to think about where they spend their money.
“It’s time for people to really speak up. We can’t wait anymore. We can’t keep marching. We can’t keep protesting. It’s not sustainable. And so everyone in any place that you have influence and power, it’s time to use that to change at every level. Not just the police. In every sector: housing, transportation, environment, they all have racist policies [in] all of the things that we’re pushing for. It’s time to do better,” Gidigbi added.
Those with the church believe around 5,000 people attended the march and prayer service.
Participants were told masks were required and people were seen trying to social distance where possible.