‘Y’all were late’: Community prayer vigil met with resistance at Decatur City Hall

WAFF 48's D'Quan Lee reporting
Published: Oct. 9, 2023 at 12:36 AM CDT
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DECATUR, Ala. (WAFF) - Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Decatur for a community prayer vigil on Sunday evening. However, that same community prayer meant to bring the city together ended up driving a wedge between some protesters and several local pastors who helped organize the event.

It was hosted to pay tribute to Steve Perkins, the 39-year-old who was shot and killed in an officer-involved shooting on September 29. Since then, a growing number of people have been pushing for answers.

But the community prayer hosted by several local pastors and Decatur city leaders Sunday night was immediately met with resistance.

“When people come out to protest and to a vigil, I’ll be the first one to tell you. You pastors, yes sir, y’all were late. Y’all were late,” said Craig Jonhson, a protester. “And I will also be the first one to tell you that every two feet we can get on government grass and speed these people up, the better.”

The community prayer vigil attracted hundreds in front of Decatur City Hall. Carl Willingham, the overseer of Gods Love Covenant Church says prior protests were the foundation for Sunday’s event.

“It was just confirmation to me that this is a good city when you got pastors coming together on the same accord,” he said. “Everybody agreeing for the same thing, we want the justice, we want the peace. We want healing over the family.”

But some in the crowd say healing can only come after they know more about what happened to Perkins. They feel the pastors’ message of peace waters down their demands for accountability and transparency.

As city leaders and the organizing pastors left, others remained, protesting on their own terms.

“I would suggest that you link up with the real community leaders that’s been out here,” said Lawrence Souffrant, another protester. “And that’s going to be out here. And then we can talk about being one because I am Steve Perkins.”

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