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White North Carolina Cops Wash Black Demonstrators' Feet

Patch logo Patch 6/8/2020 Beth Dalbey
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CARY, NC — Action matters in the George Floyd demonstrations unfolding in small and big cities across North Carolina and the rest of the country. But so do gestures.

Police officers have taken a knee with demonstrators in displays of empathy and a willingness to listen to their demands and messages with an open mind. They’ve embraced and danced with protesters who sought to diffuse mounting tension.

At a Unity Prayer Wak in Cary, North Carolina, over the weekend, white cops washed the feet of black religious leaders and prayed for forgiveness for the sins of their ancestors who for centuries enslaved, mistreated and oppressed African Americans.

The scene was rich in religious symbolism in a state where three-fourths of residents identify as Christian. Jesus washed the feet of his 12 disciples in a lesson of humility and his service to others.

Legacy Center Church founders Soboma and Faith Wokoma said churches have a long history of championing social justice.

“As we look through civil rights history, the church was always such a big part of change. And we don’t want it to just be the black church or white church, or Asian church,” Faith Wokoma told news station WDTV, “We want the body of Christ to come together, collectively.”

Soboma Wokoma said the event wasn’t just a chance to protest and demand an end to police brutality and systemic racism, the rallying cries at scores of other demonstrations, “but also to talk to one another, to know exactly what the issues are. So that collectively we can come up with solutions that can help heal our nation, heal our land and our community.”

The event started out as an interfaith walk, but before long, police officers and city officials wanted to be part of it.

Cary Mayor Lori Bush posted photos of the Unity Prayer Walk on Twitter and said she was “honored” to be part of the walk and foot-washing.

Some people on social media said the organizers of the walk were pandering to the media and others. Few commenting on Bush's tweet defended it, but some did.

“This foot washing is a national disgrace,” one Twitter user wrote. “This is not about unity or racism. These ‘struggle sessions’ are Maoist tactics designed to publicly humiliate their targets by social pressure and intimidation to ensure obedience. Embarrassed to live in Cary.”

Bush replied: “From what I understand, that act of feet washing is from Christian roots, to renew the cleansing that comes from Christ, and to seek and celebrate reconciliation with another. I don’t see anything in that activity that is humiliating. Just love.”

And, another person asked: “Do you feel the same when the Pope does it? It’s just a Christian thing, so why do you hate Christians?”

“There is nothing poignant or honorable about that moment,” another person tweeted. “It is twisted and abhorrent behavior. This act of condescension is fitting for those white police officers and pastors.”

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