NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — When Cameron Bertrand was 25, he thought he might leave this Earth.
“It’s important for me to be here, ” said Bertrand, now 29.
Bertrand was shot in the leg while leaving a Norfolk homecoming game four years ago. It still hurts and seems to be a daily reminder of his need to try and prevent another black man, or child, from dying needlessly.
Bertrand, a former Peninsula Boys and Girls club director and local youth advocate, is now in Minneapolis on a two-week mission: to march, teach and learn.
“For far too long, as a black man I’ve walked through my community with a strong fear of what could happen to me If I’m involved in a [senseless] incident of police brutality.”
Bertrand talked to WAVY News Anchor Don Roberts Thursday as his LYFT driver arrived at North Central State University. He and a colleague in his newly minted youth advocacy group — Violence Intervention and Prevention, or V.I.P. — were now within earshot of the public address system, which was broadcasting the memorial service for George Floyd.
Floyd is the Minneapolis man who died after a police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes on Memorial Day.
“As a gunshot victim, survivor, I remember how I was treated when the police department arrived on the scene an automatically assumed that I was a gangbanger and criminal,” he said.
And that’s why Bertrand says he started his own agency, Violence Intervention and Prevention, to “show there are positive people doing positive things despite our personal trauma.”
Bertrand says he’ll be meeting with students at North Central University and community groups throughout the Minneapolis area to share his experiences and learn from the locals.
He hopes to bring back knowledge that will improve relations between police and the people they serve.
The goals: prevent brutality, even save a life.
As for the demonstrations in Hampton Roads, Minneapolis, and around the nation?
“I do believe at some point we’ll be able to cool down the temperature … but I do believe it’s going to take time. I do believe it’s going to get worse before it gets better,” he said.
You can reach Cameron Bertrand through his organization, V.I.P.
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