COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. (WWBT) - A unique partnership is forming between a local police department and a Black Lives Matter activist. What started as a demonstration outside of the Colonial Heights Police Department transformed into a meaningful conversation - and now a commitment for action.
It was something neither side saw coming. In an age when some are calling for defunding police, one protester decided to act on the invitation to partner with police.
“Say his name, George Floyd. Say his name, George Floyd,” 29-year-old Jhovan Galberth could be heard saying as he led a protest near his home. In fact, he organized several peaceful protests in the Tri-Cities area.
“A lot of us, we don’t like police because of negative interactions we’ve had with law enforcement and how the system treated Blacks. That’s the reason we’re protesting Black Lives Matter. That’s the message,” Galberth said.
It’s why his group peacefully demonstrated - right in front of the Colonial Heights Police Department, never expecting who would soon join them.
“The chief was out here and he was like ‘Major, I’m going to go meet these folks’,” Major William Anspach explained. It ignited a friendship.
“We were in the middle of the street. We shut down The Boulevard. He came out and said ‘hey, I’m not here to knock what you guys got going on. I’m here to support you guys. I think you guys are doing a wonderful thing’,” Galberth recalled.
Since that time, Chief Jeffrey Faries has invited Galberth to be a police partner, interviewing applicants and collaborating on best practices.
“We want him to walk our halls, meet our officers…He listens to us. We listen to him,” Anspach said.
All because a young activist led a movement.
“Changing street names, that’s OK. Putting Black Lives Matter in the street, that’s OK but I feel you have to get in the system to make a difference, to make changes,” he said.
“We talk about people who want a change. Sometimes the best change comes from within, to be part of our organization to show us what we’re doing good and show us what we’re doing wrong,” Anspach added.
Galberth will also be invited to ride along with police so he can see what a day in the life is like. The chief says he doesn’t want this to be a one-time thing. He says these are the kind of partnerships he wants to maintain for years to come.
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