Richmond group gathers for peace after Michael Brown's death - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Richmond group gathers for peace after Michael Brown's death


Protests are again turning violent in Ferguson, Missouri. There are reports police have again used tear gas. The violence comes as a community seeks answers as to why Michael Brown, an unarmed teen, was shot and killed by a police officer.

Ferguson Police Chief, Tom Jackson, has yet to respond to those reports. Meantime, many across the country continue to show their outrage over the Missouri teenager's death.

Several dozen people gathered at Monroe Park in Richmond, Wednesday afternoon, for a peace vigil in Michael Brown's name.

"Where ever there is injustice… we will stand, God, knowing that injustice against one, is injustice against all," prayed Pastor Uzziah Harris, with a crowd behind him, hand-in-hand.

"We're here to say, ‘stop the violence.' We know that people tend to take actions into their own hands," said Charles Willis, a community advocate who organized the vigil.

Richmond councilwoman Michelle Mosby urged everyone to choose the right people to represent, and protect, them.

"If (your representatives) don't have you in mind, than the laws will stand… And things will happen, and it won't be in your favor," said Mosby.

However, many details of the investigation into Michael Brown's death, including the name of the officer who shot him, have not be released.

Dana Schrad, executive director of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, says officers must react, not knowing who may or may not have a gun.

"It certainly is tragic when an unarmed person is shot by police. But, in that split second of trying to determine whether or not someone is armed, an officer has to make a decision," said Schrad.
Schrad says continued training is critical, since officers face heightened danger. According to preliminary reports from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, 67 police officers were killed in the line of duty, during the first half of 2014. That's a 31 percent increase over the same time period, last year.

"The bottom line is, once a suspect has produced a gun, he can shoot an officer faster than the officer can respond. So the only real option for an officer who wants to survive such a situation is to shoot when a suspect disobeys an order to show his hands, or does something else instead. I don't think most people, unless they've been in one of these situations, realize how quickly it happens and all the factors that play in to an officer's response to any given situation… Continued training in use of force is so critical, after officers leave the academy. It's something that we make sure is repeated throughout their careers," continued Schrad.

Meantime, an unsettled country continues to respond. 
"It's something that we have to do. If we don't do it, who will?" said Charles Jones, 13, who attended the vigil.

Another upcoming rally in support of Michael Brown is scheduled for this Sunday at Monroe Park at 4:30 p.m.. A march is slated to follow.

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