El Paso bishop kneels to pray at George Floyd protest

CNA 5187e62f1a4a9 20083 1 Bishop Mark Seitz. File photo.

Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso led several of his priests in prayer in memory of George Floyd on Monday, June 1.

Seitz is the first U.S. Catholic bishop to physically and publicly join the protests and demonstrations against racial injustice and police brutality which spread across the country following Floyd's death on May 25. 

Seitz, along with a group of priests of his diocese, knelt for nine minutes of silent prayer. The bishop held a sign reading "Black Lives Matter."  

The service was held at the same spot where protestors and the El Paso police had clashed the previous night. 

Seitz prayed for nine minutes as that was the same amount of time a now-former Minneapolis police officer knelt on the neck of George Floyd, killing him. The officer was fired and charged with murder. 

Other members of the clergy present at the protest held signs reading "I can't breathe," which Floyd said to the police officer as he was being asphyxiated. 

In the aftermath of Floyd's death, demonstrations have sprung up throughout the country. Some of the protests have descended into violent riots, and churches in at least six states were damaged by vandals. 

Fernando Ceniceros, a spokesperson for the diocese, told CNA that Seitz chose to publicly protest as a show of "solidarity with the protestors this weekend." 
"This is a social justice issue, obviously," said Ceniceros. 

"Bishop Seitz is very cognizant of the fact that everyone deserves prayer--every single one. And that while he is praying for everybody, this is one of the things that needs attention right now," he added.

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