ASBURY PARK, N.J. (PIX11) – A New Jersey church is trying to make sense of an attack on people enjoying a concert to benefit a local anti-racism group.
“This church is very committed to anti-racism and social justice,” said church rector Rev. Chase Danford. “And people were distressed about that.”
It was after 9 p.m. on Friday when leaders at Trinity Episcopal Church in Asbury Park said someone tried to pepper spray concertgoers outside the church’s community building and then threw smoke bombs. Thankfully, nobody was hurt.
Rev. Danford said not many church members were at the concert, which featured an anti-racism speaker, but it still left them shaken.
“Church members were concerned, they felt very upset that this had happened,” said Danford.
“You hear so much of it now that you just hope things just don’t escalate and get worse than they are today,” said neighbor Irene Evanoski.
Church leaders also gave out their thoughts and prayers to those at Temple Ner Tamid in Bloomfield, where a man threw a molotov cocktail at the front door on Sunday. They said everyone deserves the right to feel safe at their place of worship.
“One of the things I said in my sermon yesterday was just how perverse it is that dangerous people have made places of safety into places of fear,” said Danford.
Amid an outpouring of support from the community, Rev. Danford asked people to educate themselves on racism and bias, and also to hold the church in their thoughts and prayers.
“Sometimes we say, ‘We need more than thoughts and prayers;’ that’s a line we often hear. But to us, as a spiritual community, that really is very important,” said Danford.
The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office told PIX11 on Monday that its investigation remains ongoing.