St. Louis pastor trapped inside church during Charlottesville protests
A St. Louis pastor is calling for unity after the protests in Charlottesville over the weekend. Pastor Traci Blackmon of the United Church of Christ went to Virginia over the weekend to counter the protests.
She said what happened over the weekend wasn't an issue of black or white. She calls it an issue of morality.
On Friday, Pastor Blackmon gave a sermon at the St. Paul's Memorial Episcopal Church in Charlottesville before protests began. Later that day, she was locked in the same church because of the violence outside.
"We were not allowed to leave the church because of this mass mob that was out on the streets with torches,” she said.
Pastor Blackmon is from Birmingham, Alabama. She said she's seen her fair share of KKK marches. But for her, nothing compared to this past weekend.
"I did not have the fear that I had this past weekend because back then the Klan still had to wear sheets,” she said.
When asked if she was more fearful of this past weekend than when she was as a little kid watching a KKK march, she replied, “Absolutely, I was."
Pastor Blackmon’s fear comes from hate groups feeling they no longer need to hide in the shadows.
"They didn't have on hoods. What that says to you is that they have been emboldened by the rhetoric of this current day," she said.
She believes the rhetoric resulted in the senseless death of one woman, Heather Heyer, 32, and many others injured in Charlottesville. James Fields Jr, 20, of Ohio, rammed his car into counter protesters on Saturday.
A leader in the Christian Community, Pastor Blackmon said evil will not win.
"All people with any moral conscious, any moral compass, must set aside our differences and come together and stand against this hatred," she said.
She said it's important for members of Congress and the president to denounce these acts. Pastor Blackmon said people must unite to make sure hatred is not safe in America.