One day after three police officers were killed in Baton Rouge, LA, a small group of faith and political leaders gathered on Leesburg’s Town Green this evening to join in a prayer of support for law enforcement.
The event was the latest in a series of community meetings aimed at building better connections between police and the community in the wake of two fatal shootings of two black men by police and the fatal assaults on officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge. A candlelight vigil was held in town following the Dallas shootings and a meeting of area faith community and law enforcement leaders was held Friday.
Organizers, including Apostle Shawn Stephens of the Ignite Kingdom Church in Leesburg and Pastor Michelle Thomas of Holy & Whole Life Changing Ministries in Lansdowne, said the work would be an ongoing effort to build bridges.
“Know that there are more for you than against you,” Stephens said to the members of the Leesburg Police Department and the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office who attended Monday’s event. As the crowd joined hands, Stephens prayed that officers would know that they are not alone, for the community to unify, and for the nation to heal from the wounds of racial tension that has cost so many lives in recent weeks.
“Our county has been fortunate so far,” Thomas said later, but it was important to bring law enforcement and the community closer together. “This is what the vigil is about. We’re on your side. We want you to come home tonight and by the same token we also want our communities to be safe. We want to get to know you. We want to build a bridge and a true partnership so that when you pull up, you see us as a human being and we see you as a human being. And both of us can go home to our families.”
Among those attending were Leesburg Town Manager Kaj Dentler, Interim Leesburg Police Chief Vanessa Grigsby, Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office Major D. Park, School Board member Tom Marshall, Leesburg mayoral candidate Kevin Wright and Town Council candidate Ron Campbell.