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Faith and civil justice leaders hold different kind of protest with same message: 'Say their names'

They say events like theirs go hand-in-hand with peaceful protest

ST. LOUIS — While some protests moved through the streets Wednesday night, a group in St. Louis stood still. Faith and civil justice leaders challenged them to help the city move forward.

With a curfew still in effect in the City of St. Louis, leaders Faith for Justice organized their “Say Their Names” vigil by daylight. On the hot pavement, people found common ground.

“I hope that this is a catalyst of change,” said Jeffery Rodgers. In his late 50s, Rodgers said this moment feels different than others in his lifetime.

Jervias Johnson is young and still finding his voice. He said becoming more active in black causes has taught him the difference between sympathy and empathy.

“Just being ‘I’m sorry for you,’ and thinking that’s the same as like ‘I’m walking with you,’” he said. “Coming to things like this just kind of helps you pull back the scales from your eyes.”

People were encouraged to spend some time at the beginning of the event talking to someone new and different.

 “White, black, everything, the city the county, all of them need to come together,” said Rodgers.

“Just to hear to voices of those who have been historically unheard is important, and as a white person myself, you know, it’s like to recognize your own privilege,” said Evan Carr.

The event also included singing and dancing, celebrating black lives for eight minutes — the same amount of time George Floyd spent with a knee to his neck.

“Every time I see my brothers and sisters with the same color skin as me die, it’s like seeing myself die,” said Johnson.

Along with marching for justice in the streets —“That’s essential, that’s part of the process,” said Rodgers — they pray their calls for understanding, from parking lots like this one, can bring people together, even during a time of separation.

“There’s multiple diseases and pandemics out here simultaneously, and right now we’re battling both of them,” said Johnson.

In a sign of these times — everyone in the crowd was asked to keep a social distance and wear masks. There was also a toilet paper drive: people could bring extra if they had it, or take what they needed.

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