Those gathered at a candlelight vigil at Zinn Park Monday evening prayed for both the victim of a recent deadly shooting in Missouri, and for the police officer who shot him.
David Baker, president of the Calhoun County chapter of the NAACP, made a call for “calmness and peace” in front of a group of about 15 residents gathered under a pavilion at the park.
Michael Brown,18, was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo. on Aug. 9. Brown, an African-American, was unarmed when he was shot by a white officer. The incident sparked protests in the St. Louis suburb. In the days since the shooting, those protests have swung back and forth between peaceful and violent. Police have used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds, and looters have ransacked businesses and set a gas station ablaze.
Witnesses say Brown was shot in the back while holding his hands in the air in surrender. An autopsy Sunday seemed to show Brown was shot six times, twice in the head, and possibly from the front. Police have said Brown was shot after struggling with the officer while the officer was inside his police car.
Baker, speaking at Monday’s vigil, was quick to point out that Darren Wilson, 28, the officer who shot Brown, has not been charged with a crime. He and his family deserve prayers as well, he said.
Baker said his heart goes out to Brown and his family, and “for the officer.” Two families are forever changed now, he said.
Anniston’s police department is a “responsible” agency, Baker said, and administrators work well with the NAACP when a problem arises.
“This is not an indictment of Anniston police,” he said.
The hope is that protestors and the officers who are responding will lean toward peace and away from aggression, Baker explained.
“We pray today for the safety of those individuals,” Baker said.