Local faith group leads prayer pilgrimage to Confederate monument sites


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Dozens of people braved the hot summer heat Tuesday to participate in a prayer pilgrimage to three Confederate monument sites in Hampton Roads.

The group, Catholics and Friends, held the event for Black lives and racial equity.

Originally starting at the site of the Confederate monument in Virginia Beach, the crowd made its way to Portsmouth before stopping in Downtown Norfolk.

Abby Causey, who has been a part of the Tidewater Sowers of Justice group for 21 years, says the sites of the monument were chosen for a reason.

“Because there’s so much significance and history there and pain and trauma,” she said. “In order to find reconciliation, you have to address the trauma.”

The event included speakers such as priests and community activists who called for the need for equal justice.

Causey, whose organization works on finding solutions to social justice issues that cause poverty, says they’re working to empower others in the community to take a stand.

And now is the time to do so.

“The monuments may have come down but that’s not the end. That’s the beginning,” Causey said.

Virginia Beach voted unanimously last week to remove its Confederate monument from its perch at the Municipal Center. Last month, Norfolk removed its monument from its prominent location downtown in the interest of public safety.

Portsmouth’s Confederate monument still stands inside a temporary fence near the intersection of Court and High streets, but has been damaged and partially dismantled by protesters. A man was seriously injured during that protest when one of the soldier statues was pulled down.

On Tuesday night, Portsmouth City Council voted to remove the monument from its existing location. Its new home is still under consideration.

Steve Baggarly also fights for social justice movements. He’s part of Norfolk Catholic Worker and helps with those in need, like the homeless.

He says that it’s important for Christians to say that black lives matter, especially since many have tried to demonize the message.

“As Catholics, as Catholic Christians, we are to commit ourselves to justice for all people all the time everywhere. That’s the Christian calling — to be out publicly saying that Catholics support Black Lives Matter and support the Black Lives movement is an important thing to say,” he said.

Baggarly says the Norfolk Catholic Workers have held a vigil every day for the last couple of weeks for Black Lives Matter.

“This is a time and place where we need to do whatever we can in support of racial justice,” he said.

The pilgrimage was also held on the 158th anniversary of the 14th Amendment being adopted into the Constitution and the 103rd anniversary of a mass protest in New York City against racial lynching.

Catholics and Friends is made up of various organizations and local churches. They plan on having other events in the future including a pilgrimage to the 1619 Landing Site at Fort Monroe in September.

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