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Senator, congregation rallies around Dumfries church after ‘white power’ sign found on door

DUMFRIES — Pastor William Thompson was in the hospital on Sunday, and it was his wife, Etta who came to church about 9:30 a.m. to open the building for Sunday school.

“I just walked up and there they were,” Etta said. “I just started shaking.”

Someone had taped a paper sign to the front door of the Greater Praise Temple on Main Street, one of the many small churches in Dumfries. There on the sheet of paper was a picture man wearing a suit and a white hood, a Confederate battle flag, and the words “white power.”

Now out of the hospital, today William joined Etta at their church to offer words of forgiveness to the person who posted the racist sign on his door.

“Over the years, I’ve learned that if you’re doing something good something bad is going to happen. I kind of expected it,” said William Thompson. “If I could speak to the person who put this on our door, I would tell him I love him, and I forgive him.”

The Pentecostal pastor of six years and his wife on Thursday afternoon were also joined by members of their congregation who welcomed to their church U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, State Senator Scott Surovell, and Delegate Luke Torian, pastor of First Mount Zion Baptist Church. All denounced the hateful sign that was posted on the door.

It comes nearly three weeks after white supremacists and counter protesters filled the streets in Charlottesville. A car allegedly drove by a white nationalist into a crowd of counter protesters killed Heather Heyer, 32.

“There is definitely a greater anxiety [in the state.] The Charlottesville thing was really troubling for many reasons, but one of the most troubling things is about 90 percent of the ralliers who were the white supremacists who showed up in Charlottesville were from outside Virginia,” said Kaine.

The post-Charlottesville anxiety trickled down to Manassas where last weekend the city’s annual Civil War Weekend living history event was canceled. 

“Growing up here, I thought these issues were behind us,” Surovell commented.

The Thompson’s said they could think of no one they’ve crossed paths with over the past few weeks that would want to cause them harm, nor could recall any threatening online messages.

“I’m not troubled about how it happened,” explained William. “It’s going to happen.”

Etta said the incident has forced her to be more aware of her surroundings.

“We got to Walmart and we have our earbuds in, and we’re not really paying that much attention… that’s gotta change,” she said.

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