HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) – Dozens of locals gathered for prayer and discussion Monday night in the wake of a violent week for cities across the country.
Hampton elected leaders, city activists, community members and law enforcement officials united inside the Bethel A.M.E Church starting at 7 p.m.
The prayer vigil was organized by the city’s local NAACP branch President Gaylene Kanoyton, who received call after call from concerned citizens following last week’s shooting deaths in Louisiana, Minnesota and Texas.
“We need people to be able to come up and share their feelings,” she said. “Having a prayer vigil sets the tone that we care, and that we want some results.”
Many took the podium, expressing their anger, fears, and hopes for harmony.
At various points throughout the evening, community members stood in support of law enforcement, while law enforcement stood in camaraderie with citizens.
“What we’re faced with is not a racial divide,” one church leader said. “What we’re faced with is people who don’t understand what wrong and what right is.”
Officials stressed during the vigil that it is crucial to hold both law enforcement officers and community members accountable.
Several folks thanked the Hampton Police Division for its dedication to community engagement, and urged folks to work with the police to prevent violence the city does see.
“Most of the shootings are people that know each other,” Kanoyton said. “They’re not stranger on stranger crime, and so as citizens, we should be reporting that, ’cause we know these people, and you can do it on the Crime Line.”
Folks said it is imperative for law enforcement and the community to work to understand where the other is coming from.
“Make sure there is action behind prayer.”