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Detroit — Dozens of clergy members gathered Friday morning to condemn the recent white supremacy rally and violent racial incidents in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“This is a Detroit response to the racial violence and intolerance that we all saw last week,” said the Rev. Nicholas Hood III, senior pastor of Plymouth United Church of Christ, during a press conference in front of his church.

“We have a unified stand. White and black, young and old, Asian, other ethnicities. We’re all here today to show and stand in solidarity that we will not tolerate racism. We will not tolerate intolerance. We will not tolerate injustice.”

The event Friday comes nearly a week after a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, and acts of violence that erupted against counter-protesters led to the death of one woman and injuries to 19 others.

Many have criticized President Donald Trump’s response to the Charlottesville events, saying he was unwilling to rebuke white nationalists.

“What the world saw last Saturday was an abomination of our faith and our values as a nation,” City Councilwoman Mary Sheffield said. “We have come too far in this country ...

“As an elected official, as a minister and as a millennial, I am not only repulsed by this element in our society, but I am also appalled that our commander-in-chief would conflate the bigotry and hatred displayed in Charlottesville with the peaceful and non-violent movements, such as Black Live Matters. There is no room for white supremacy, racism and the KKK in America today. And we expect our president of this country to be unequivocal in his rejection of these antiquated and unholy ideas.”

Clergy members came from various denominations throughout Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties to call for unity and racial equality.

In a statement, more than 50 local pastors wrote they would increase work as advocates for peace, justice and equality to seek the elimination of racial hate, prejudice and bigotry. The pastors also committed to encouraging others to participate in work for justice and equality.

Edgar Vann, pastor of Second Ebenzeer Church, said he came to stand against injustice.

“We must always take a side,” Vann said. “As a pastor, as a person of conviction, today I take a side. Neutrality helps the oppressor. Never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor. Never the tormented. So we’ve come today to say to America enough is enough. We come today to America to say that we will not longer stand and tolerate the injustice, the xenophobia. We will not tolerate it in America anymore.”

As a newlywed, Peggy Casteel, pastor of Mt. Clemens First Presbyterian Church, said she and her husband have a blended family with 15 grandchildren, including white, African-American and Latino.

“We want to make the world a safer place for our grandchildren,” she said.

cwilliams@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @CWilliams_DN

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