A crowd of more than 100 gathered at Bailey Square in Hamilton for a prayer vigil this afternoon.
The event, which was led by Truth & Life Community Church pastor Shaquila Mathews (Pastor Shaq), was part of a nationwide surge of rallies over the May 25 death of George Floyd while he was being arrested by Minneapolis police.
Mathews, an anti-violence advocate, founder of Hamilton Young People Empowered (HYPE) and Hamilton schools board member, was one of several people, including Hamilton Mayor Pat Moeller and Wendy Waters-Connell of YWCA of Hamilton, to speak at the hour-long event.
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“We don’t just gather at this vigil to only pray, but to allow prayer to be our foundation from which we build upon,” Mathews said. “To come together as a community to heal, organize and strategize how we will move forward to be proactive.”
Mathews said the vigil was gathering peacefully to remember the life of Floyd and others who have lost their lives to police brutality, including Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old who was killed during a confrontation with Louisville police in March, and 25-year-old Ahmad Aubrey, who was shot to death in May by a father and son while jogging through a Georgia neighborhood.
“We gather to say their names and never forget,” Mathews said before Sunday’s event. “We don’t just gather to only pray but to allow prayer to our foundation from which we build upon and come together as a community to heal to organize and strategize how we move forward to be proactive that this doesn’t happen in our community, that we build relationships and strengthen those we do have with police and local elected officials and community leaders to have those tough conversations. If we are going to be 17 Strong, we have to talk about it.”