HAMPTON, Va. – You can be a voice for change by voting. That’s the message the Hampton chapter of the NAACP shared with the community during a rally for justice on Wednesday night.
A crowd of about 40 people, including NAACP members, elected officials, the Gamma Epsilon Chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity at Hampton University and members of the community, were in attendance.
Congressman Bobby Scott spoke very briefly about upcoming bills and the importance of voting in September.
NAACP Hampton Branch President Gaylene Kanoyton spoke about bills regarding citizen review boards and no-knock warrants and also about voting and the 2020 Census. She said it’s very important to get out to vote in November or vote absentee.
Hampton Councilman Steven Brown spoke about no-knock warrant legislation and recent police shootings of Black people.
“It’s not about being anti-police; it’s about doing the right thing,” he said.
Brown added, “If Black lives really matter, put the guns down, put the weapons down and get to the polls.”
Vice Mayor Jimmy Gray spoke about firearms violations in the city, saying there are “too many family members being affected. He urged attendees to “help us help the community and stop the violence happening in Hampton.”
Delegate Shelly Simonds was also in attendance. After nationwide outrage over the death of Breonna Taylor, Simonds said, “we are going to pass a ban on no-knock warrants in the state of Virginia.”
Simonds added that they are also creating a Marcus Alert system, so that when someone is experiencing a mental health crisis, police officers won’t be the only people to respond. This is in reference to the death of Marcus-David Peters, who was shot and killed by Richmond Police in 2018 while he was having a mental health episode.
She also talked about the importance of “your one vote this November.” Simonds herself knows how just one vote matters - in 2017 when the race for the 94th District seat was tied, her opponent David Yancey’s name was drawn from a bowl in January 2018, allowing Republicans to continue to control the House. She flipped the seat in November 2019.