Peaceful protesters ‘March on Norfolk’

WAVY/Joel Hilton

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The latest Hampton Roads protest against police shootings blocked streets in downtown Norfolk Friday, but ended peacefully.

At 3 p.m., about 80 people gathered outside Norfolk police headquarters on Brooke Ave. for a “Don’t Shoot March on Norfolk.” The crowd chanted slogans now familiar after similar demonstrations here and across the country: “I can’t breathe,” “hands up, don’t shoot,” and “black lives matter.”

The protest began on the sidewalk in front of the Federal Building, then spilled out into the street at the corner of Brooke Ave. and Granby Street.

Photos: Protesters spill into Norfolk streets

Hampton University student Amber Smith talked with 10 On Your Side, and said people need to notice local cases, as well as the ones in Ferguson and Staten Island.

“I am confident that those of us here are helping to raise awareness,” Smith said. “But I do think there are those who are in a state of privilege and have the ability to ignore this.”

Organizers said they aren’t just reacting to the national cases of Michael Brown in Ferguson and and Eric Garner in Staten Island. They are also responding to local cases where Norfolk police were involved in deadly shootings, including Joshua “Omar” Johnson in May 2013, and David Latham last June.

Another protester told he’s taking up the cause because he’s been a victim of police brutality himself: “I think it’s basically a case of us versus them now,” said T.J. Thompson of Chesapeake. “It’s not just a question of one locality, it’s a case of the people versus the government.”

Police blocked off a stretch of Granby Street, between City Hall Avenue and Tazewell Street. The group left for a while, marched to city hall and then returned about 45 minutes later.

Ron Dukes lives nearby and said he doesn’t share their cause: “I think it’s ridiculous. These people have nothing better to do. They’re only here because [the media] is here.”

The protest ended without incident. It followed similar recent demonstrations at Old Dominion University, Virginia Beach near Mount Trashmore, and MacArthur Center in Norfolk.

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