The Hampton Police Department was getting ready to remove memorial ribbons that honored police officers who were injured or killed after a recent shooting in Dallas. Then, on Sunday morning, news broke out of Baton Rouge, La.
“This time in Baton Rouge, six to seven police officers have been shot and three are now confirmed deceased as a result,” said Terry Sult, chief of Hampton Police, in an emailed statement on Sunday afternoon. “Once again a part of America has died.”
A total six officers and deputies with the Baton Rouge Police Department and East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s office were shot about 9 a.m. less than a mile from the Baton Rouge Police Department’s headquarters, according to Casey Rayborn Hicks, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s department.
The gunman, who was shot and killed by police, was identified as 29-year-old Gavin E. Long, from Kansas City, Mo., according to a U.S. law enforcement official. The New York Times reported that Long was a five-year veteran who had served in Iraq.
Racial tensions are high across the country, especially in Baton Rouge. Police there fatally shot Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, on July 5, sparking protests and helping launch a Justice Department civil rights investigation within one day of the shooting caught on video.
Scores killed in truck attack in Nice, France A truck loaded with weapons ploughed through a crowd of thousands celebrating Bastille Day Thursday in the southern French resort city of Nice, killing at least 80 people and injuring 100 others in what officials described as the latest in a string of deadly terrorist attacks to hit Europe. French President Francois Hollande called the attack “a monstrosity” and announced he will seek to extend a state of emergency still in force from the last terrorist attack to hit France.
A tractor-trailer crash killed one person on an I-664 ramp early Tuesday morning. The crash began as the driver attempted to take the 35th Street exit and ended up near the 28th Street overpass. Response to the crash closed multiple on ramps and off ramps. The driver was ejected from his vehicle and died on impact.
Protest Black Lives Matter was held this afternoon at Jefferson Ave. and Mercury Blvd. in Newport News with about 1000 people attending the march. They later walked up Jefferson Ave. to the Newport News Police Station.
People gathered Sunday evening for a march from Jefferson Ave and Mercury Blvd. to the Newport News Police Headquarters to protest recent fatal shootings of black men in the United States by police.
Five police officers were killed in what police are calling an ambush in Dallas during a protest over fatal shootings by police officers of black men in other states.
A day later, a Minneapolis police officer fatally shot Philando Castile, a 32-year-old black man, during a traffic stop — also caught on video. On July 7, a man who said he was seeking revenge for Sterling and Castile’s deaths killed five police officers during a Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas.
“As we try to process the tragic events of the past few weeks resulting in the deaths of both police officers and civilians, there is still room for hope and even optimism,” Sult said in his statement. “In the aftermath of Dallas, Hamptonexperienced protests by the Black Lives Matter movement. It was uplifting to have so many of those coming to protest also show and voice their support for law enforcement officers on an individual basis.”
There were a great many amens and hallelujahs at Bethel AME Church in downtown Hampton Monday night, but there seemed to be even more frustration and anger.
At a prayer vigil and community discussion focused on recent violence — both high-profile national killings of and by police, as well as community…
On Sunday, Newport News community groups Tight on 2 Wheelz Motorcycle Club and Sassy with Class Social Club hosted a peace walk on Warwick Boulevard in Denbigh. It was arranged about a week ago in light of recent shootings across the nation but also to protest against violence in general, said Terry Ballard, president of Tight on 2 Wheelz.
Sunday’s shooting in Baton Rouge demonstrated why it was needed, he said.
“Today’s tragedy, hearing three more officers — that inspired me to go through with this whether it was 10, 15, 20 or 100 of us out here today,” Ballard said after the walk. “It’s time to show (officers) and reassure them that they have no fear in Newport News, that we are here to support them.”
About 20 people walked southbound on Warwick Boulevard from Oriana Road to Tabbs Lane, holding a mix of signs: “Black Lives Matter,” “All Lives Matter” and “Make Love Not War.” Nine others rode and revved up their motorcycles behind the group as people chanted, “Black lives matter, all lives matter!”
Tiffany Smith, a participant, said she and her young daughter came to support the idea that people should “be held accountable for all the violence,” no matter who pulls the trigger.
Newport News police officers on bicycles monitored the 30-minute walk. Those participating occasionally thanked officers as they passed them.
“Our hearts are heavy as we mourn the loss of the officers killed and injured this morning in Baton Rouge,” said a Facebook post from Newport News Police Department. “As the investigation into the incident continues, we ask that you join us in keeping the officers, their colleagues and their families in your thoughts and/or prayers.”
Every time an officer is killed on the job, it puts law enforcement on high alert, said Lt. Dennis Ivey, spokesman for the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office.
“We always take precaution because it’s a dangerous business that we do,” Ivey said. “The bottom line is no matter what, we’re going to put on a badge, a uniform and a gun and go out there and protect the people.”
The Denbigh peace walk also was arranged to address police brutality. Ballard told the group that he hopes everyone will “learn their rights” and get involved so that they can hold their elected officials accountable when they need to. It’s something he hopes his son will learn because Ballard never wants to “get that call or knock at the door” learning that he’s lost a loved one.
An area minister, Dr. Norman Taft, said he’s grateful Newport News has not experienced the magnitude of tragedy that has unfolded in other cities this month. The point of Sunday’s walk was to bring attention to using peace to mediate conflict, Taft said.
“It was so the police department knows we got their back, and we just hope they got our back,” Taft said.
The Los Angeles Times contributed to this story. Amin can be reached by phone at 757-247-4890.
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