VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — More than 1,000 people gathered in Virginia Beach on Saturday in peaceful protest to denounce police violence, racism, and the killing of George Floyd.
Virginia Beach Police Department leadership met with the event organizers before the march to provide support and to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
“What we’re trying to do here is facilitate the conversation and allow the community that is very passionate, very emotional — for very good reason — to exercise their first amendment privilege of free speech,” said Interim Chief Zucaro.
The group marched from Mount Trashmore to Town Center.
“Black lives’ simple as that, they don’t deserve to be treated [differently]. We’re all equal we are all the same. There is no reason that the people who are supposed to be protecting us, are mistreating citizens,” said Heather Butler about the march.
Tracey Nickens got emotional.
“We’ve been fighting for so long, and to have so many people out here supporting us is the world. And, that’s what really matters, we’re all together.”
She said her emotions were all over the place.
“Anger. Joy with seeing so many people supporting and really caring, there is joy in seeing that. But also knowing we have so much more to do,” Nickens continued.
Zucaro says he is glad the protest stayed peaceful all day and he was able to bridge the gap, even if it is only the beginning.
“We hope this is an opportunity to continue the conversation, ask those thought-provoking questions, come together, and work towards solutions,” he said.
Zucaro said he knows a big part of making change is accountability within the department.
They are currently working on enforcing a bystander program where officers are mandated to interject when they see their peers doing wrong.
“It was a peaceful event, without any occurrences of violence. EMS was on scene and transported one person to a local hospital who suffered a medical emergency and tended to two others for heat-related concerns,” said police officials. “We appreciate the cooperation of all who came out which led to a successful event.”
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