WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) — Members of law enforcement and the African American community came together Friday night in Williamsburg, around a single sheet of paper, with a common goal.
Twelve people, including religious, police, and community leaders from Williamsburg, James City County, and York County signed the covenant in front of hundreds of others at the Williamsburg Regional Library, pledging mutual respect and inclusion.
Rev. Corwin Hammond, of CBC World Ministry, who organized the event, said he was affected by the death of Eric Garner following an arrest in New York in 2014 as well as the deaths of five Dallas police officers last year. He said he wants to be proactive and bring together law enforcement and the African American community.
“The goal for this event is when you leave here tonight, if nothing else, you feel good about our community, about our police officers, about just who we are as a people. There’s already enough bad,” Rev. Hammond said.
“This covenant is to exhibit an atmosphere of unity, respect, and cooperation between the local law enforcement agencies of the City of Williamsburg and the counties of James City and York and the African-American community,” Angel Washington read to the crowd gathered at the Williamsburg Regional Library.
Rev. Hammond invited religious, community, and law enforcement leaders from around the area, including York-Poquoson Sheriff J.D. “Danny” Diggs.
“I think we’ve got a good relationship in the community, but while you’ve got a good relationship is the opportune time to make it even better. You can’t make things better when there’s a crisis,” Sheriff Diggs said.
When all 12 members had signed the covenant, those in the audience got on their feet and applauded.
Organizers said Friday’s event was just the beginning.
The next plan is to designate community captains to dialogue with police and have police hold open forums in the community.