Loudoun Faith Leaders Hold Vigil for Buffalo Victims

Leaders in Loudoun’s interfaith community gathered alongside a crowd of mourners Friday night in Leesburg to hold a vigil for the victims of the mass shooting in Buffalo, NY, and to protest the continued racist violence in America.

Faiths ranging among Christian denominations, Jewish, and Muslim to Baha’I and Unitarian Universalist gathered in both prayer and calls for action in front of Leesburg United Methodist Church, followed by a candlelight march to the county courthouse.

Pastor and NAACP President Michelle Thomas warned the same sentiments that led to the mass shooting in Buffalo are present in Loudoun. The shooter in the case cited “replacement theory,” the conspiracy theory that nonwhite people are being brought to the U.S. to replace white people, as motivation for the mass murder.

“As I think about the theories, I think about the theory that we fight in Loudoun County every day—it is the ‘Critical Race Theory.’ It’s the same thing, and if you don’t get that, you’re not awake in this county,” she said. “If you don’t get that Critical Race Theory could be the thread that causes a shooting in our area, in our grocery stores, and at our school board—or at least in the parking lot—oh, they don’t want to hear about it, but that’s OK.”

Conservative attacks on the Loudoun County Public Schools have used the banner of “critical race theory” to push against teaching about systemic racism and anti-racist curriculum in the school system.

Loudoun NAACP Vice President Christian Yohannes said people in his teenage generation have grown up desensitized to the violence against Black people—learning to dress a certain way and act a certain way to try to survive when stopped by police or just going about their lives. He reeled off a list of names in some of the most high-profile of killings of Black people in recent years, such as Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd.

NAACP members and interfaith leaders lead a candlelight march through Leesburg Friday, May 20. [Renss Greene/Loudoun Now]

“This is how I’ve grown up. This is what I was taught. Each time a new headline comes about, it feels the same to me. It feels like nothing, like it’s second nature. How could it not be when it’s all that I’ve been taught to expect? All I’ve known is to say, ‘OK and comply.”

But the shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo, he said, was different.

“How am I supposed to manage not going out in public? How can I be at risk, at true danger, by simply leaving my home? By going to the grocery store?” Yohannes said. “I live in a white community, but the bottom line is, if a man walked into my neighborhood Target looking for a Black man to kill, I can code switch my plea to survive as much as I want, but I would be gone. What precautions can someone take for that? There’s none. So, this cannot go longer.”

He and Thomas called also for new gun regulations, such as banning the type of weapon used to murder people in the Buffalo shooting. And Loudoun NAACP Vice President Amanda Tandy read a statement from the group in response to the shooting.

“Don’t simply offer thoughts and prayers but engage and find out how we all work together to eradicate hate, bigotry, discrimination, and white supremacy by actively promoting the understanding of racial intolerance, equity and equality at our homes, families, schools, and playing fields, workplaces, and even our prayer spaces,” she said.

8 thoughts on “Loudoun Faith Leaders Hold Vigil for Buffalo Victims

  • 2022-05-23 at 3:27 pm
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    Where was I when Loudoun’s “faith leaders” held a vigil after the Christmas parade massacre in Wisconsin last year?

    Oh right, it didn’t happen. And this is nothing more than a chance to push more anti-white sentiment out into the community. With a healthy dose of politics to go along with it.

    Good grief.

  • 2022-05-23 at 3:28 pm
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    Just over 65 years ago, Emmett Till was lynched for being Black in Mississippi. Fast forward to earlier this month when 10 people were shot dead inside a Buffalo supermarket for being Black. The more things change, the more things stay the same. I agree with Pastor Michelle. It could happen anywhere — including a Loudoun school-administration parking lot. May Heaven help us all during these difficult times. RIP

  • 2022-05-23 at 3:46 pm
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    That’s right. Loudoun County sucks. We’re a hotbed of Klansmen. We all wake up everyday thinking how we can discriminate against people. Complete and total nonsense.

    Pastor, who took the devil’s silver, keeps calling her neighbors racist. Toxic falsehoods do not make a community.

  • 2022-05-23 at 3:53 pm
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    New York is ranked among the top five states for the tightest gun control. Sometimes even ranked #1.
    New York has a so-called “red flag” law.
    The monster who perpetrated this crime had been evaluated for mental health problems previously. He faced no charges for threats of mass violence in his school.
    Yet he passed a “background check” and was able to purchase a firearm.

    How about enforcing the laws that are already on the books?

    • 2022-05-24 at 10:49 am
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      Wait… you mean you want them to show how the laws they passed didn’t actually work as advertised?

      By the way, you forgot that he made an illegal modification to the firearm… a modification that the law was supposed to prevent, yet somehow it didn’t.

  • 2022-05-23 at 6:00 pm
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    I must have missed the candlelight vigil held for the victims of the Waukesha Christmas parade.

  • 2022-05-24 at 7:23 am
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    Where are these people when shootings in chicago, baltimore, nyc..where blacks are killed by the hundreds….where was the outrage when the black perp ran over all the dancing grannies in milwaukee….the activism by the local group is so far off that mark it is comical….

  • 2022-05-24 at 3:42 pm
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    If the NAACP and Michelle Thomas want to find racism, they need to look in the mirror.
    These race baiters no longer have a shred of credibility.

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