HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — Groups in Norfolk and Virginia Beach held peaceful protests Wednesday evening in response to recent police-involved shootings.
The Silent Mile, an organically-organized community group, held a pro-peace and unity demonstration with an estimated 500 participants. Protesters began gathering at the Hague Pedestrian Bridge in Norfolk.
The march ended at Flat Iron Park, near the Norfolk Federal Courthouse with a program, where speakers announced the names of each of 134 African-Americans who were killed in police-involved shootings. Participants also wore the names of those victims as they marched.
Norfolk Police say they worked with the group ahead of and during the event. Officers could be seen in cars, on foot and on bikes, posted on city streets throughout the protesters’ path, assisting with traffic.
Organizers of The Silent Mile say they’re not anti-police, but want accountability for officers. They also encouraged protesters to send letters to their senators, asking for ally advocacy and equal protection under the law.
Another group held a small Black Lives Matter protest at Town Center in Virginia Beach, which got underway around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.
About a dozen people marched throughout the area. Officers could be seen close by and shaking hands with protesters.
“If folks want to have a peaceful march to exercise their first amendment right, we’re going to make sure they’re protected in doing so,” says Chief Jim Cervera. “I think the Virginia Beach Police Department and the community has an excellent working relationship and the object and the intent is to introduce ourselves, ‘if you need something don’t hesitate to call us, we are here to assist you.'”
An organizer with the protest told WAVY News that she wants to start a discussion about recent officer-involved shootings that have happened throughout the nation.
“We all bleed red,” one woman said.
“This is not a racial thing, it’s just for everyone to come out and talk about what’s been going on along with black men being killed, along with officers,” said Farika Hash. “Nobody should be getting killed the way they’ve been getting killed lately. Everybody needs to be held accountable for what they’re doing.”
Wednesday’s protests are the latest demonstrations in the region since last weekend.
Stay with WAVY News 10 for the latest updates to the protests.