Fred Martin pulled out his tongs, gripping a piece of red-hot steel, from the forge and turned to place it on the anvil.
Camille Mays brought the hammer down, pounding methodically at the glowing metal: a shard from a gun barrel. She hammered again and again, the metal head making a quick, sharp bark as it struck the steel and the anvil beneath it.
The ritual on Saturday afternoon at an urban garden on Milwaukee’s near North Side was the culmination of an afternoon rallying “for Jesus and Justice” on the weekend before the stripped-down Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee.
It was at once nonpartisan and passionately critical of President Donald Trump’s administration, and of the shortcomings of politicians not only in failing to hold him accountable but in not addressing social justice concerns ranging from poverty and systemic racism to gun violence and police brutality.
And, says Shane Claiborne, one of the organizers, it was aimed at creating an alternative to the politics that led as many as 80% of white evangelical voters to cast their ballots for Trump in 2016, and to back his reelection in 2020.
“What I’m seeing is that there’s a lot of people that do not find themselves very comfortably at home in either political party,” Claiborne says. “And yet, they’re very concerned about the state of our country. And so I think part of our desire was to create a space that is centered around Jesus and justice that is really fueled by our faith.”