More than 200 people gathered in Charlotte’s Marshall Park on Thursday evening for a vigil to acknowledge victims of police abuse, after the recent killing of a black man by a white officer in Ferguson, Mo.
Similar vigils were held in dozens of cities across the country as part of a movement for a National Moment of Silence. The event’s organizers urged people to take action against injustice and then turned over the microphone to anyone who wanted to share their experiences.
“I was really blown away that so many people came out,” vigil organizer Reia Chapman said. “People in the Charlotte community are really, really thirsty for change.”
Michael Brown, 18, was shot and killed by a police officer Saturday in Ferguson, Mo. In the days since his death, police presence in the town has increased and protests have turned violent.
At several points during Thursday’s event, the death of Jonathan Ferrell was brought up. Ferrell was shot and killed by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer last September while seeking help after a car crash. Lawyers for the police officer say that Ferrell, who was unarmed, did not comply with orders to get down.
The vigil included discussions on ways to enact change, such as registering to vote and contacting local government. At one point, people chanted “Enough is enough” and “No justice, no peace.”
For many, the event was personal.
“I have to look at it as: You’ve declared a war on me. This is the country that I fought for,” Vietnam veteran Nathan Spencer said of police violence. “How am I supposed to feel?”
Yeani Anthony said: “I have five brothers who could have easily been Mike Brown. It can happen to anybody.”