Stan Maclin (grad. cert. '01 in ministry studies), leader of the Harrisonburg chapter of Virginia Organizing, addresses the crowd during a vigil protesting the deaths of young black men in the United States. (Photo by Kelly Clark/Daily News-Record)

Harrisonburg vigil protests deaths of young black men: ‘When something happens in my hometown…I carry it with me,’ says CJP student

About 35 people gathered in Court Square on Saturday [May 23, 2015]  for a vigil protesting the deaths of young black men that has made news in Baltimore, New York and other cities across the country over the last year.

Jodie Geddes, a graduate student at Eastern Mennonite University who is attending the Summer Peacebuilding Institute [SPI], helped organize the event with help from the Northeast Neighborhood Association and Virginia Organizing. She said Americans shouldn’t turn a blind eye to events.

“If something happens in my hometown in New York, I carry it with me,” she said. “When something happens in Burundi or any other country, we can feel that.”

(5/23/15) - (Harrisonburg) Police Violence Vigil in Court Square. (Kelly Clark/Daily News-Record)
(Kelly Clark/Daily News-Record)

Stan Maclin, leader of the Harrisonburg chapter of Virginia Organizing, called the number of high-profile confrontations between black men and police “alarming.”

“It will continue to get out of hand like it did in the ’60s,” he said. “A lot of people say, ‘Don’t talk about the past’… we need to talk about it.”

Maclin said the only way to bring about change is for everyone to stand together regardless of skin color.

“That won’t happen if we don’t come together like we are today,” he said.

Oscar Apesough, a Harrisonburg resident from Nigeria [who also attended SPI], said he attended the vigil because he wants to find “ways we can support the idea of working through this.”

Apesough said civic organizations should work together with law enforcement to restore community relations and maintain peace.

“It should be peaceful,” he said. “It shouldn’t be violent.”

Courtesy of the Daily News-Record