Demonstrators gathered outside St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church Sunday to protest a now-suspended priest who called Black Lives Matter protesters “maggots” and “parasites.” Organizers hope to use the remarks to make change in Carmel.
Last week, the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana suspended Father Ted Rothrock. Sunday’s protest was focused on healing and creating a space for conversations.
Aaron Green spoke at the event. He’s a case manager for Voices Corp., an Indianapolis-based organization that works with kids from juvenile detention to connect them to educational resources. One person from the small but vocal counter-protest shouted as he spoke.
“We have someone in a leadership position that makes it OK to show hatred towards people. You see people come out, like him, and be themselves. All I’m asking is that you be yourself all the time,” he said.
Green says he hopes people who are willing to have hard conversations about race show up to be uncomfortable and grow. And those who aren’t, are ready to get out of the way. He said those conversations are hard.
“These conversations get uncomfortable. But as you’re being uncomfortable, you’re growing. So that discomfort is actually good,” Green said.
The group was split into two parts – one standing at the driveway into the church parking lot, chanting and holding signs, the other farther back with water and food to talk with community and church members about Black Lives Matter.
The protest was organized by Carmel Against Racial Injustice. Ashten Spilker, a co-founder and CEO, said she hopes this incident can spark a larger conversation about race in the wealthy, predominantly white city.
“Just because we’re white doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be standing up to injustice, in fact, we can use our privilege to amplify voices,” Spilker said.
Spilker said she and other members of her organization have been told stories about students in Carmel schools being called slaves and racial slurs.