Group walks for racial harmony in Portsmouth, speaks before council

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – A group concerned about race relations in the City of Portsmouth held a “Love Walk,” Tuesday from Washington and High Streets to City Hall.

Organizer Coleman Young, of “Virginia is for Lovers, not Racists” said bickering and racial tension among council members has set a bad example and is holding the community back.

“The people walking are concerned about racism and prejudice in the city, among all groups, and it’s just not one particular group, but all groups. We feel that we want to bring public awareness concerning the problem and well as go to city council and urge them strongly to have a citywide forum,” Young said.

Organizer Amii Creekmur said clients of all races have talked about the problem at her business, where she met Young.

“I’m just asking the city council to unite with the people. We are the people of this community and we desire change. All of us aren’t racists. All of us aren’t prejudiced. We all have subconscious biases, but at the end of the day, we’re all people and we want to be able to get along,” Creekmur said.

The participants took their message to city council at a meeting Tuesday night.

“There is racism and prejudice with all groups. White, black, Hispanic, Muslim, and we want to come together to solve these problems,” Young said before council.

Mayor Kenny Wright said he was in “extreme support” of the idea.

“This is, I think, a long time coming. You have no idea, as a leader, what it means to see citizens getting involved and taking things on their own,” Wright said during the meeting.

One man said that racial division has been used as a political tactic among leaders.

“Mayor, with all due respect, I hope that you actually speak what you just said because I have unfortunately read some of your Facebook posts… I’ve seen some of that and I do believe it’s trying to be racially split,” the man said.

10 On Your Side talked to the organizers of the march to hear about their message:

The group is urging council to organize a public forum for the purpose of discussing race relations in the community.

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