It’s not every day you see an empty casket on the Halifax Common.
And it’s not all that common for several congregations from churches across the municipality to gather outside on a Sunday afternoon for a shared sermon.
But that’s exactly what happened yesterday, with those in attendance calling for fewer coffins and more coming together in a protest against violence and a march for racial reconciliation organized by Cornwallis Street Baptist Church. A couple hundred people of all ages and races strolled from the north-end Halifax church to the nearby park, carrying signs adorned with messages such as We Care and singing out uplifting messages that filled the streets and had curious residents peeking out of their windows.
“Many of us worship in our churches week after week and sometimes I believe that the community thinks that the church is not in touch with what is going on in the real world,” Rev. Rhonda Britton said before the marching and music began. “We are here to say we know, we are in touch and that we are able to meet the challenges in our city if we stand together.”
Mayor Peter Kelly, Coun. Dawn Sloane (Halifax Downtown) and Coun. Jennifer Watts (Connaught-Quinpool) all joined the demonstration, which was escorted by both a police car and a black hearse – perhaps symbolizing the consequences of senseless violence.
“Someone once said that Sunday morning is the most segregated time in any city in North America,” Britton said. “Well, today we are proving them wrong.”
Britton said she hopes yesterday’s success is just the start of “collective action to eradicate the violent and the racial hatred that seems to engulf as at times.”
As yesterday’s demonstration ended, several people lined up at the casket to drop in pieces of paper scribbled with the names of those they know who have been affected by violence.