Mark Zimmerman from the Catholic Standard has the story, which corrects a number of inaccuracies floating around social media:
After the May 25 killing of George Floyd, an unarmed African American man who died in police custody after an officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest, a bystander’s video of the murder sparked protests by crowds in cities across the nation.
Josephite Father Cornelius Ejiogu – the pastor of St. Luke Parish in Washington, D.C. — said the Church could not be silent as voices were being raised for racial justice and against police brutality.
So the priest organized a prayerful protest starting near the White House on June 8 that by his estimate drew 40-50 priests and deacons, and more than 200 other Catholics, including lay people and women religious.
“I wanted to do a prayerful march that says, ‘Enough of the killings, enough of the racial profiling, enough of the discrimination, enough of the use of excessive force, the way black people have been policed in this country,’” he said.
The effort was organized by him, not by the Archdiocese of Washington, although archdiocesan priests were invited to participate. The priest said that originally it was going to involve his Josephite order, which through its history has ministered to the African American community, and he got the permission of Bishop John Ricard, the superior general of the Josephites, to proceed with the prayerful protest, and to invite any other priests who wanted to join. The priest later spoke about the rally to Washington Auxiliary Bishop Roy Campbell Jr., the president of the National Black Catholic Conference, and that organization supported the effort.
On the evening before the priests’ prayerful protest, a media outlet had falsely reported that Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory had ordered his priests to participate in a protest against President Trump. Father Ejiogu said the prayerful gathering was non-partisan. The priest said that false report, which gained traction in social media, totally misrepresented the event, and he added that Archbishop Gregory was not involved in organizing the protest.
“That takes away from the beauty, joy and the love we experienced,” said Father Ejiogu.
St. Luke’s pastor noted that “at the march today we prayed for good police officers and good policing,” and he said police officers provided security for the event, with four to five police cruisers driving ahead of the marchers as they marched from near Lafayette Square to the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
“While we were praying, there were police officers praying alongside us. They saw the essence of what we were doing,” he said.