Fourteen candles were lit in the sanctuary of the New Outreach Christian Center in Charlotte Friday evening to honor those who died and were injured in both officer-related shootings and in the Dallas sniper attack on police this week.
"We're sending out love, peace, healing, hope,” Pastor Brenda Stevenson said. “That’s what we’re sending out. Come on, clap your hands.”
After the fatal shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minn., Charlotte-area residents held protests and rallies. Friday’s vigil came after 12 police officers were shot at a rally in Dallas. Five died.
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“We should live in a world where we feel safe. All lives matter,” Stevenson said. “Not just black lives. All lives.”
The church’s sanctuary filled with prayer and song as attendees lit the candles. Stevenson encouraged everyone to hug the person next to them.
"I don’t know when you’re gonna do it, but Lord, bring peace to this nation,” she said in a closing prayer.
Mecklenburg County Democratic Party Chair Matt Newton spoke, saying he was there as a concerned citizen. He stressed the need for police reform.
“You don’t solve a problem with more violence. You solve a problem by solving the problem,” Newton said. “Reach out to your city council folks. Let them know how you feel.”
Another speaker, Wendy Sims, of Mount Carmel Baptist Church, emphasized the need for peace within the black community.
“I’m thinking, is your life more or less valuable when someone of another color takes your life?” Sims said. “We are losing black men generation after generation. There’s so much self-hatred with each other.”
Rachel Herzog: (704) 358-5358; @rachel_herzog