HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – City leaders and Mayor Eric Papenfuse’s Interfaith Council held a vigil Monday for peace and justice following the shootings deaths of police officers in Dallas and African-American men in Louisiana and Minnesota.
Papenfuse spoke to an atrium filled with grieving people Monday afternoon.
“Everyone here today shares their pain,” he said.
The vigil had speakers that included police Chief Thomas Carter, who was both saddened and frustrated that violence on both ends keeps happening.
“We had enough. Enough is too much,” he said. “No more.”
Deb Marteslo with Moms Demand Action called on people to not only express anger but to act upon those feelings.
“We cannot fall into despair,” she said. “There’s too much work to be done. We don’t have time. We need to act.”
Spiritual leaders offered prayers and guidance.
“We live in a broken, messed up world,” Rev. Ricardo Volcy said. “We need hope.”
But as apparent from many in Harrisburg, sometimes those wounds are deep and go back generations. Kenniqua Jenrette, a young mother, said her kids have a fear of police.
“We grew up learning you don’t call the cops. You do not snitch. Snitches get stitches,” she said. “But something has to be done.”
Now, she takes part in the Black Lives Matter movement and wants African-Americans and police officers to strengthen the community bond. Jenrette said she did not want to sit idly and watch her sons become a statistic.
“Along the way of life, someone must have the sense and morality to cut off the chain of hate,” Rev. Geoff Dunaway said.
Yet, both the public and police spoke the same message of cooperation and respect.
“If we don’t start treating people as people, the question will always be asked: when will it stop?” he said.
There is common ground to build a foundation of trust both felt afterward. Carter believes the common foe is not each other, but fear. When both sides show compassion for one another, the fear should subside.
“When we share compassion for each other we can achieve true peace and justice,” Dunaway said.
The vigil was viewed as a necessary outlet to grieve, but also to grow.
“It was everything that we need in a city,” Jenrette said. “In order to become a greater city and, let [the black community] know that the cops are not that bad.”