HAMPTON, Va. (WVEC) -- A prayer vigil Monday night offered more than collective intentions. It offered the people who filled Bethel AME Church empowerment and hope after violent incidents involving police officers in other parts of the country.
"Somebody in this room should say, 'Not on my watch is Hampton gonna be all over the national news. Not on my watch am I gonna let that happen,'" said Reverend Joshua King, Sr. of Zion Baptist Church.
King and other community leaders spoke to hundreds of people at the vigil hosted by the Hampton NAACP.
The event was in response to the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile who were killed by police in Louisiana and Minnesota, respectively, and to the murders of five police officers whom sniper Micah Johnson ambushed at a demonstration in Dallas.
"You are not going to reap love if you are sowing hate, and I don't care if it comes in a uniform or somebody with a Bible in their hand," said Pastor John Young of Empowered Believers Christian Learning Center.
Besides remembering everyone who died, a goal of the vigil was to try to prevent similar incidents in the Hampton Roads area.
King told the people at the vigil, "Either we're gonna be right or we're gonna give into the wrong, and hate is wrong. Discrimination is wrong. Love is right. Forgiveness is right, and mercy is right."
"Speaking specifically to Newport News and Hampton police departments, our chiefs of police have worked hard to establish better relationships with our communities," said Democratic State Delegate Marcia "Cia" Price.
Chief Terry Sult of the Hampton Police Division stated, "It's been said time and time again: It's hard to hate 'up close.' We gotta get close. We gotta get that hope. We gotta have words, and we gotta have action."
That was, in many ways, the parting message to people, that they take the energy and encouragement that filled the sanctuary on single night and build on them every day.
"My prayer is that you will step up, be committed, get engaged, and that you be the solution that you seek. Amen," said Price who found her closing remark greeted by thunderous applause.