Leaders call for peace and justice - not violence - to honor George Floyd during community prayer vigil

Prayer vigil and rally in Birmingham for George Floyd

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Dozens of people gathered in historic Kelly Ingram Park Friday for a prayer vigil for George Floyd. The local NAACP, 100 Black Men of Metro Birmingham, pastors and district attorneys gathered with the community to pray for peace and justice.

Longtime law enforcement veteran Chris Anderson says the former Minneapolis police officers fired after Floyd's death do not represent what he's represented for nearly 30 years.

"They don’t represent the same color of law that me and so many other men and women have laid their lives down before. They don’t represent us,” Anderson, a retired Birmingham Police Detective said.

We've seen violence erupt in Minneapolis because of Floyd's death, but officials here say destroying property is not the way to do it. They are calling for positive change and unity saying everyone needs to work together to achieve that no matter the color of your skin.

"But to be violent, to destroy property is not the way to do it. So we're here to give knowledge and encouragement and to make positive change and we're not here to incite any violence,” Lynneice Washington, Jefferson County District Attorney for the Bessemer Cutoff said.

"Let’s continue y’all to keep our eyes and ears open to make sure that we speak up for one another, but at the same time to make sure that we protect one another because it’s important we all feel safe,” Jefferson County District Attorney Danny Carr said.

“When we see things that are wrong, we need to speak up and speak out,” a local pastor prayed to the crowd.

Before the vigil, a group called “White Birminghamians for Black Lives” circled the park with signs calling for an end to systemic racism. They eventually joined the prayer vigil.

Balloons were also released in George Floyd’s memory with people yelling his name and saying “I can’t breathe” as the balloons floated off in the distance.

Another protest is set for Saturday afternoon. The Alabama Rally Against Injustice will take place at Kelly Ingram Park at 5 p.m. Organizers are expecting a large turnout.

Vigil for George Floyd in Birmingham

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