EVERETT — More than 70 people gathered near downtown Everett on Friday. But they did not march or chant, as droves of demonstrators in cities across the United States have in recent weeks.
Instead, with heads bowed and hands clasped, they prayed for peace and justice.
The vigil, at Jubilee Church of God in Christ on Virginia Avenue, honored George Floyd and other people of color who have died at the hands of police.
“God, you keep marching. God, you keep holding us. God, we’re looking for victory. We’re looking for a breakthrough,” said Pastor Aaron Gaines of Faith Tabernacle Fellowship. “We need you now.”
During the hour-long vigil, pastors who spoke elicited cries of “yes, Lord,” and “hallelujah” from the crowd clustered outside of the congregation.
“This is our way of rallying together, our way of gathering together, our way of coming together from a spiritual perspective,” said DanVónique Bletson-Reed, the event’s organizer. “We are entreating God. We’re asking God to come in and heal our land.”
As the vigil unfolded in Everett, several hundred protesters marched through the downtown past City Hall and to the high school in Snohomish Friday evening. First Street became a sea of demonstrators between Avenue D and Union Avenue.
Floyd, an African American man, spent his last waking moments in police custody in Minnesota with an officer’s knee on his neck. His May 25 death and his dying words — “I can’t breathe” — have sparked a nationwide movement calling for equity and an end to police brutality.
Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin evoked the rallying cry when she addressed those attending the vigil on Friday.
“I am standing with you. I am listening to you. I am breathing with you,” she told attendees. “Gatherings like this are exactly what our community needs right now.”