“Russian Churches Weren’t Damaged, But We Are Very Worried About Safety”
Burnings, lootings or peaceful demonstrations
The US just began recovering from the coronavirus pandemic which locked down the economy for several months when a new attack came—protests sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white policemen in Minneapololis, MN.
Protopriest Andrei Sommer commented on the matter:
I live in Manhattan, we are simply horrified, there’s a curfew in place from 8 pm, you can’t go outside or drive your car. Of course, there is a sense of danger and fear in the city. It’s like a second epidemic; protests have continued for several days. Looting, arson, clashes with police. I personally didn’t witness anything, since I try to stay at home. I watch the news and think that this is simply barbaric.
Of course, the death of a person at the hands of police is terrible, and murder cannot be justified. But what is happening in our nation now cannot be justified, otherwise mankind will break out of the limits of Christian love.
On Tuesday, a few blocks from the Synodal Cathedral of Our Lady “of the Sign,” a huge crowd passed by, about 200 people. I was performing evening vespers at the time and heard everthing even through closed doors. The noise of the protesters and hovering helicopters made it very difficult to serve.
True, it was a peaceful demonstration, but no one stopped them or sent them home for breaking quarantine. But allowing churches to open for the faithful is only planned for the final phase of restoring the economy, along with movie theaters.
Fortunately, Russian Orthodox churches in New York weren’t damaged, though of course we worry. The same in Los Angeles, where we have a big cathedral. Demonstrations took place not far away. By the way, the cathedral recently held the first divine service with the participation of parishioners, though of course, with safety measures in effect.
The authorities say that we’ll be under curfew at least until the end of the week; it all depends on how things unfold. I would say, however, that Wednesday night it was somewhat calmer than previous days. What happens down the road we don’t know…
In my opinion, we need to concentrate on brotherly love and mutual sympathy at this time. This takes place on a personal level, we as Christians should serve as an example. It is important to show empathy and to help them, and in this way we show our love for God.
I would say that the leadership of both New York City and State actually support the protests. Of course, everyone has a right to express their opinion on various topics, especially when we’re talking about murder. But then we exhibit a double standard: people can’t break self-isolation to go to church, but thousands of people gather without masks, without social distancing.
The government only took steps after the demonstrations turned violent. But let’s be honest: the quarantine applies to everyone, disease spreads even in peaceful demonstrations. But for the sake of political goals, the authorities are not protecting society.