VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A local fraternity chapter is promoting positive police relations ahead of the Something in the Water festival.
Brothers of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. alumni and Virginia Wesleyan University chapters hosted an event Tuesday night called “Stay Above Water,” with the goal of keeping attendees safe.
“We got involved in this really because we noticed how big Something in the Water was getting,” said Michael Bradford-Calhoun, 24, one of the organizers. “Let’s have a conversation with the college students to say ‘hey, lets make sure you are staying aware and staying safe at all times’.”
Aside from the challenges of a 35,000-person festival, Calhoun said the larger obstacle is overcoming the reputation of College Beach Weekend.
The informal event held the last weekend in April had been a time when Historically Black College and University (HBCU) students would visit the resort town. However, the weekend has been riddled with shootings and other crime.
“We want to make sure that we understand and give knowledge or give some history of what happened in the past so we don’t repeat it in the future,” Calhoun said.
While the event was not open to the public, Calhoun said one of the topics important to discuss has to do with those who work to keep things safe.
“Understand how to interact with the police and if you are not doing anything wrong don’t feel nervous around the police officers,” Calhoun said. “Be respectful at all times, just A to Z. We are not expecting anything bad to happen but we want to make sure they understand, if you do have an interaction, you know how to handle yourself.”
The fraternity said it is the least they can do to support what Pharrell is doing for the city.
“It’s something that’s giving these college kids something to do so that they’re staying out of mischief and they’re excited for who’s coming to the concert … so you know what better way to promote a positive event,” Calhoun said.