That Viral Story About NC Police Washing the Feet of Black Faith Leaders Is Not True

Protesters confront CMPD officers after an arrest during a May protest in Charlotte. (Photo for Cardinal & Pine by Grant Baldwin)

By patmoran

June 16, 2020

Police did not actively participate in the foot-washing ceremony, but some kneeled.

Some North Carolina police officers from the Raleigh suburbs participated in a peace march with Black faith leaders over the weekend in Cary, but they did not, as multiple outlets reported, wash the feet of those religious leaders. 

On Sunday, Forbes debunked the incorrect story, which drew the ire of conservative commentators like Fox News’ Laura Ingraham, who said “white cops and private citizens [who] washed the feet of Black protesters in a Holy Thursday style ceremony of forgiveness [were] subjugating themselves to a movement.”

And on Fox Business, as Forbes noted, host Lou Dobbs talked about the “strange” scene in which “police officers and other members of the community actually washed the feet of the black men and women who were leading the protest.”

The act of washing someone else’s feet has deep religious implications. A story in the Bible recounts Jesus washing the feet of his disciples as a lesson about humility, and the pope continues the ceremony to this day.

But the church that organized the ceremony and a police chief who participated say the depiction of officers washing the feet of demonstrators and religious leaders is inaccurate, Forbes wrote.

Police did not participate in the foot washing, although a small group of officers did kneel behind the ceremony but did not actively participate. 

Instead, white religious leaders washed the feet of Black pastors as “a symbolic demonstration of forgiveness, solidarity and justice for all mankind,” Legacy Center Church told Forbes in a statement.

Police from Cary, Apex and Morrisville were on hand, although as Morrisville Police Chief Patrice Andrews told Forbes, they were “simply there to support” the peaceful demonstration.


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