RICHMOND, Va. -- Community and state leaders, pastors, and churches gathered at Morning Star Baptist Church Wednesday to proclaim June 3, as The National Day of Peace.
They raised their voices to denounce recent riots in Richmond and around the nation, and to stand with peaceful protesters fighting for justice.
"If you are not for peace, be quiet. If you are not for peace, step back! And for those of us who are for peace, we have to take a stand against the insurgents," said ministry leader, Markita Brooks.
Bishop Leon Benjamin, who organized the gathering, said his heart broke when he saw footage of George Floyd's last moments, as he died in Minneapolis Police custody, when a police officer held a knee on his neck for eight minutes.
The Bishop said his heart then continued to break when he saw violence erupt around the nation and in the city of Richmond in response to those injustices.
Benjamin called for Floyd's memory to be one of peace and not anarchy.
"I would like to see it catch on like wild fire. I would like to see that we become, take back our city, instead of becoming a place of riots and looting and shouting," said Bishop Benjamin. "Nothing wrong with peaceful protests. I'm for that. That's in our First Amendment -- the right to protest, the right to assemble. But what we saw was something else."
He said creating an environment of peace would involve praying, reading the word, art and cultural performances, acts of kindness, and education.