Through RNS — A various band of religion leaders and at the very least one presidential candidate descended on a park outdoors the White Home on Wednesday (June 12), gathering to decry what organizers referred to as the “evil” insurance policies of the Trump administration.
“We are here to talk about right versus wrong,” the Rev. William Barber II, co-chair of the Poor Individuals’s Marketing campaign, informed a whole bunch of clergy and different folks of religion gathered in Lafayette Sq. for a rally organized by Barber and Rabbi Arthur Waskow, director of the Shalom Middle.
“We have come as a prophetic witness against what we are seeing in this nation, and to deliver a moral indictment against this president’s policies, this administration’s policies, the policies of his enablers, and the policies of the religionists who try to suggest that what is wrong is actually right,” mentioned Barber, who can also be president of Repairers of the Breach.
The rally started with an interfaith worship service that included representatives from Native American, Jewish, Christian, Muslim and different religion traditions at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, who then marched towards the White Home holding a banner that learn “Moral Witness Wednesday.”
Ready for them at Lafayette Sq., which is throughout Pennsylvania Avenue from the White Home, was presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Ind. Buttigieg, who has spoken at size about religion on the marketing campaign path and expressed help for a “religious left,” was solely attending the demonstration to bear “silent witness,” to not marketing campaign, rally officers mentioned.
When the group, which stretched greater than two metropolis blocks, arrived at Lafayette Sq., the place a stage had been erected for the rally, the Secret Service introduced that the park was being closed for 2 hours with out rationalization. Entry to Pennsylvania Avenue was additionally gated off.
A Secret Service spokesperson informed Faith Information Service the closure was a matter of “routine protective activities.” When requested, neither the spokesperson nor the preliminary announcement talked about a safety risk.
Undaunted, the religion leaders continued their demonstration on the sidewalk outdoors the park, with lots huddling round Barber and different leaders as audio system used a bullhorn to decry numerous Trump administration insurance policies, specializing in points such because the therapy of immigrants, local weather change, the U.S. Census, and well being care.
The Rev. Traci Blackmon, a Ferguson, Mo., pastor who protested towards white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, mentioned well being care, gerrymandering and racism in her brief speech, saying “America is not well” and that “we will be judged by how we have cared for the sick, how we fed the hungry, how we have sheltered the homeless, how we have welcomed the stranger.”
She later defined to RNS that she felt compelled to take part within the protest as a result of “people of faith who are committed to the gospel” and different spiritual traditions have been “relegated to the left because we’ve been too quiet.”
She added, “We’ve never been a perfect nation … but we’re headed towards fascism and it is my role as a priest and a prophet to sound the alarm.”
A number of audio system famous that the varied religion communities shared many considerations. Wendsler Nosie, former chairman and councilman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe, famous that his religion is the “oldest religion of this country,” and he pointed to the overlap of Native American sacred land claims and environmental fights.
“Native Americans trust in you and this movement as long as it is spiritual,” he mentioned.
Buttigieg, whom Barber requested to maneuver into the group whereas the religion leaders spoke, remained silent and observant through the proceedings, typically nodding in settlement with what was mentioned.
At one level the Rev. Jacqui Lewis of Center Collegiate Church in New York approached Buttigieg to thank him on behalf of the LGBTQ members of her congregation and named him as one in every of her “favorite candidates” working for workplace (she later clarified this wasn’t an endorsement). She then handed him her enterprise card, which he accepted.
Buttigieg left after about 45 minutes and tweeted concerning the protest later that day, calling it “important” and “moving.”
Shortly after his departure, officers reopened the park, permitting the group to assemble across the stage, and the audio system continued their criticisms of the Trump administration. Rabbi Esther Lederman, director of Communities of Follow and Congregational Innovation for the Union for Reform Judaism, blasted the administration’s use of the Homestead Middle in South Florida to accommodate immigrant youngsters.
“I’ve lost track of how many times we’ve spoken out against the moral crimes committed by this White House and this administration,” she mentioned as a crowd of preachers roared in response. “But I’m not tired! We’re not tired! We can do this every day until every child is released from Homestead — and that is a promise, Mr. President!”
After the audio system completed within the park, a column of volunteers approached the White Home fence in an try to ship a petition that referred to as on Trump and his administration to “repent for its sins.” However whilst Park Service officers assembled to detain protesters, and the Secret Service blocked the realm in entrance of the White Home with a barrier, informing demonstrators that crossing it might be a felony.
Barber finally led the volunteers so far as the makeshift gate, chanting, “Your administration is under indictment!” and “Your court chaplains are under indictment!” After a back-and-forth with law enforcement officials, members finally started taping their copies of the petition to the gate.
As protesters dispersed, Barber famous that the Poor Individuals’s Marketing campaign will host a “Moral Action Congress” in Washington subsequent week that’s slated to incorporate speeches from a number of Democratic presidential candidates. He additionally defined that, whereas neither the protest nor his group endorses candidates, they’re nonetheless unashamedly “political” and plan to carry future protests.
“The (faith) leaders are not going away,” Barber informed RNS. “We are announcing today that we must be conspicuous — now — in the public square.”