ODU Chapter of NAACP hosts vigil in light of recent police-involved shootings

Posted at 6:51 PM, Jul 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-07 23:17:08-04

NORFOLK, Va. - The Old Dominion University Chapter of the NAACP hosted a vigil for those who died in police-involved shootings across the country this week.

The vigil was held on campus at the Kaufman Mall.

On Tuesday, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, officers responded to a 911 report of a man with a gun.

Video of the incidentappears to show an officer pinning Alton Sterling to the ground with another officer assisting. There is a visible struggle and then shots are fired.

On Wednesday, in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, Philando Castile was shot by policeduring a traffic stop.

His girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, was in the passenger seat and streamed the aftermath on Facebook.

Some students tell News 3 they felt like they had to do something.

"We needed to have something non-violent and something where people could come out and feel like there voice is heard," says Rudie Henderson, with the ODU chapter of the NAACP.

Students discussed their feelings with the violence but mostly focused on how students of all skin colors, races, backgrounds, need to come together and unite.

"At the end of the day we're all in this together," says Brandon Ballard, a junior at ODU.

News 3 reached out to the acting president of the Norfolk Police Union, David Lefleur, with a series of questions about the incidents. Below are some of his responses:

"The first part of your question 'what is important for a community to remember?' is that a loss of life is always a tragedy, regardless of the circumstances. When it is at the hands of Law Enforcement there is always going to be questions asked, and that is natural. We have to allow all the investigation to be conducted before judgments are rushed, and blanket statements made. Lumping all law enforcement into one bubble does not help solve anything. Too many times judgments have been rushed and evidence showed the original thoughts weren't actually what happened. At the same time when the force used are not justified then we do have to make sure those cases are handled appropriately I don't know one police officer that feels if someone unjustly responded with force that they should be protected."

"I feel that it's not just high profile cases, anytime you have something that affects people on an emotional level that is a negative feeling it can effect relationships. That is one reason I personally love what the Norfolk Police Department has been doing over the past few years. Focusing on community relationships. Building stronger ties to neighborhoods, schools, and other out reach programs. I think that Chief Goldsmith and his Assistant chiefs have made it clear that is a priority for the department."

"At the end of the day, police officers must respect the citizens they are called to serve, just like citizens must respect the police, who are our first line of defense against wrong-doing. If the communities continue to work with their law enforcement together and have open dialog to come together for what best serves the city and community then the end result will be less crime, stronger communities, and a trust between the community and the police. To me that is the greatest goal to work towards."