Portsmouth events seek to strengthen community ties in the wake of violence

Posted at 2:46 PM, Aug 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-08-14 18:45:27-04

Portsmouth, Va. - A rally to "Stop the Violence" is set to kick off Friday night outside of the Ida Barbour Recreation Center in Portsmouth.

Organizers say the rally is in honor of recent acts of violence in the city, including two officer-involved shootings that happened earlier this year.

Those two incidents also sparked another separate movement in Portsmouth to have Portsmouth Police officers attend a day camp with inner-city children.

Bishop Frank Allen is the founder of HOPE Charitable Services, which organizes the day camp.

He made the decision to invite Portsmouth Police and other local law enforcement every day to the summer camp.

"When we first walked in, kids wouldn't even talk to us. There were a couple of kids that actually got up and left and didn't want any interaction at all with police," says Lt. Althea Floriano.

The officers serve and eat lunch with the kids and help with projects, like packing grocery boxes for families in need.

Bishop Allen says his first goal was the build the relationships and use those relationships to prevent future tragedies at the hands of officers.

"They don't feel like they have to pull their gun. They can call them by name and pull them by the ear," he says.

The rally at the rec center Friday night seeks to strengthen that bond. It's open to the public and starts at 6:00 p.m.