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Protests, vigils after latest wave of officer-involved shootings

Posted July 7
Updated July 8

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— Late Thursday afternoon, President Barack Obama posted on his Facebook account that America should be "deeply troubled" by a situation he called a "serious problem."

His comments referred to the shooting deaths of 32-year-old Philando Castile, in Falcon Heights, Minn., and 37-year-old Alton Sterling, in Baton Rouge. Both men died at the hands of police within 48 hours.

Members of the Raleigh community prayed for justice on the streets and sanctuaries Thursday night after the deadly shootings.

A prayer vigil was held Thursday evening at the Raleigh North Christian Center to honor Castile and Sterling.

Dr. Jeffrey Chapman, Sr., the pastor at Raleigh North Christian Center, said the church opened its doors for anyone wanting to pray about the situation.

"The church needs to come together and begin to pray and let God get involved and do something, because I know he's working behind the scenes," Chapman, Sr., said. "Yes he is, but we've got to put feet to it."

The shootings also brought a group of demonstrators together elsewhere in Wake County.

"Both of the videos are very disturbing, and with all of us having personal cell phones, we see what's going on," said Silke Eze. "I'm a mother, I have two sons. I shouldn't have to pray that they grow to be healthy men in this society."

Antoine Marshall said he had to be part of the demonstration as an example for his young daughter.

"When I was 7 or 8, my father had the talk with me, and the talk was how to be behave in front of the police," Marshall said. "I have a 3-month-old, and it scares me decades later. I'm going to have that same talk with her when she is about 7 or 8."

Domenic Langley, of Durham, is African American. He said that he fears the killings will continue to happen.

"Being a black male in the community, we don't feel safe," he said.

Frank Baumgartner, a political science professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is working on a study of policing and traffic stops. He said stereotypes of African Americans, especially men, often lead to over-response.

"People are afraid of black men, and they associate black men with violence," Baumgartner said.

He believes a solution can come from the videos of the shootings.

"Making everyone aware that this is a problem is the road to social change," he said.

North Carolina Central University Law Professor Irving Joyner said that even though some of the officer-involved incidents have been caught on video, there have been no convictions in those cases.

His advice - keep recording.

"We need to keep these videos going because that is the only way we are going to be able to chronicle what is going on and the fact that these are wrongful killings," Joyner said.

Joyner also said that he believes changes need to be made to the laws that govern police, especially when using lethal force.


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