Felicia Fink and Andrea Bramblett want it all to stop: the killings, the riots, the bitter arguing.
The Forsyth County women joined forces over social media to organize a vigil from 5-8 p.m. on Tuesday, June 2, at Central Park in response to the recent killings of black Americans by police and the visceral demonstrations around the country that have followed in the days since.
“We’re taking both sides,” Fink said, “and we’re collaborating on the idea of peace as a whole.”
The community is invited to have their voice be heard, but not with chants or destruction, Fink said. Instead, participants will be invited to write a prayer of their choice on a piece of paper and place it within a circle of flowers. Then they’ll be prayed over.
“If you want to write, ‘Black lives matter’ on your card,” Fink said, “you can go to the circle and place the card in the circle and allow the next person to come up and say, ‘Peace across the nation, we want justice’ -- whatever it is they’re desiring, they can place inside the circle.”
Fink and Bramblett designed the event to be a contrast to the images of burning cars, smashed windows and chaos that have drowned out peaceful demonstrations in dozens of cities across the U.S. calling for racial equality and justice following the killing of George Floyd, a black man, while in police custody in Minneapolis.
They chose a location away from government buildings or businesses. Participants are asked to bring battery-powered candles. Volunteers will guide people through the steps of the vigil. All while following social distancing guidelines.
“That’s why we geared it toward a prayer,” Fink said. “Something very simple and quiet and kind of mourn for what’s going on around the country.”
Fink said she, and Bramblett, worried that the county’s past racial tensions might make it an easy target for demonstrators in Atlanta to come to Forsyth County and “speak for our community.”
“No one has given a proper update on Forsyth County,” Fink said. “Being a minority woman myself, and then (Bramblett), she’s a caucasian woman … who has a biracial child -- we live in this county. We can speak for this county.”
What they have to say is nuanced compared to the bitter clashing they witnessed between local residents on social media in recent days.
“We didn’t feel that we needed to address our local police department,” Fink said. “But we also wanted to stand side by side with those across the country that are facing the hurt and the pain coming from the loss of life due to injustice.”