Burton began the ceremony with a prayer for peace and a fresh start for the community. He said he felt led to host the ceremony as a way to “love on the city.”
Israel Baxter, pastor with the New Hope Life Church, said that he was encouraged to come out by Burton.
“If you have a voice of influence,” Baxter said, “your responsibility is to use that platform to influence people to stay on the right path.”
He said that although it is easy to lose hope, he said that he believes in the good of humanity, and while he does feel the same anger and frustration, he wouldn’t let it keep him from seeing that goodness.
“The darker the night, the brighter the light shines,” he said.
The foot washing ceremony is a reference to Jesus washing the feet of prostitutes in the Bible as well as a reference to the television show Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.
In the show, Fred Rogers hosted a foot washing ceremony with black police officers from across the country as a gesture of peace.
“It shook the area,” Burton said. “I looked at that and thought, why not here, why not now, we can take the same thing that Jesus did and do it here.”