Prayer and community meeting hopes to improve police relations

- It was not only a vigil in Huntersville, but a town hall style meeting. It was organized before the shooting in Dallas, but the message was still the same. How can the country unite, no matter the color of their skin, and prevent future violence.

“My mother said to me, she is 77 years old, is this 1965? And I said to her it certainly seems like it,” said one member of the panel.

That was anything but the case inside the University City Church Tuesday night. Police officers and those of all backgrounds, joining hand and hand, uniting as Americans to talk about the challenge facing this country.

“There has to be fears and phobias that have to be balanced out so we can get along as a community,” said Pastor Michael Stevens.

For many, it was the first time they could talk face to face with community leaders. Many parents were lining up to speak, worried about the future of their children and their interaction with police.

“What programs are out there that I can connect with law enforcement with my sons to be educated by law enforcement,” said one parent.

Concerned citizens like Leslie Scott said she is tired of seeing black men like Alton Sterling and Philando Castile shot dead by police.

“I am angry now. Why is it that African American people have to be concerned about something like not just being shot during a traffic stop, but just being shot,” said Scott.

The panel answering some of those questions included the Huntersville Police Chief, but he reassured concerned parents that measures are in place to prevent those deadly situations here.

“We get bad apples every once in awhile, but my job as police chief is to find them and fire them and that’s exactly what I will do,” said Chief Cleveland Spruill.

Although not all jurisdictions may take those same steps, Michael Stevens reassures those fearful of future problems that justice will eventually prevail.

“There is no need for violence, there is no need for retaliation or revenge, we have to let things weight themselves out in the courts and in the justice system,” said Stevens.

While those on the panel don’t agree with what happened in Louisiana and Minnesota, they asked those in the audience if they’re ever stopped by police to remember the dangerous risk they face everyday.

If they feel their rights are being violated, take that up with the proper authorities at a later time, and not on scene.

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