Norfolk prayer service honors George Floyd, encourages healing


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — People of all ages, all races and all religions gathered at the First Baptist Church of Lamberts Point Wednesday evening to pray in the wake of the death of George Floyd.

Floyd, a black man from Minneapolis, died May 25 after a police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.

“I wanted to reach across all faiths, all believers. At this important time we have to come together as one body. I wanted it to be about honoring the memory and the life of those who were murdered. I wanted it to be about peace and unity, restoring the community back together,” said Tonya Paige, a minister at the First Baptist Church who organized the service.

Masks were mandatory. So was social distancing. Some chose to stay in their cars and listen to the speakers. Others ventured onto the pavement. All appeared to follow the rules.

“I had cried enough. I was angry. It was all the emotions. I was angry, I was hurt but I wanted to do something with it and so I began to pray and I know what it does for me. And I know what it does for other people that at this time,” said Paige.

Paige invited leaders from a variety of faiths and organizations to speak, including a Catholic priest, a Jewish rabbi and members of the LGBTQ community.

“For the work that’s ahead we gotta come together. We have to come together. We can’t function in different sects and different communities.”

Norfolk Police Chief Larry Boone spoke at the service saying he wanted “to underscore that something must change in the hearts of the officers who killed George Floyd.”

Chief Boone also noted how proud he is of his own department.

“To the men and women of the Norfolk Police Department, I have never been more proud of you than over the past eight days,” said Chief Boone. “Not one arrest. Not one brick. Not one injury. Not one nothing.”

Members of Norfolk City Council attended the service as well. So did the commonwealth’s attorneys for Norfolk and Portsmouth as well as the presidents of ODU and Norfolk State.

All shared a message of unity and solidarity.

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