National outrage sparks community conversation in the New River Valley

Published: Jun. 2, 2020 at 6:32 PM EDT
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Close to 200 people stood or sat outside the Blacksburg Police Department Tuesday afternoon to listen and learn how they can work together to create change.

"Black lives do matter. It doesn't mean anyone else's life does not matter, but it means ours does and we are the ones being killed," Franklin said.

The group A Dialogue on Race coordinated the discussion, featuring speeches from elected and law enforcement officials.

"And what we are seeing now is that call, the call to act, to finally end the institutional racism that we see here in this commonwealth and across the country," Delegate Chris Hurst (D-12) said.

Rally organizers said this type of discussion isn't new; for years they've been working with these leaders to address race issues in the New River Valley.

"There's been some tough discussions, but you have to do that to make progress," Christiansburg Police Chief Mark Sisson said.

In hopes that even more progress will be made in the future.

"The only way we can get that change is that people are fired up to push for it," A Dialogue on Race member Wornie Reed said.

Because even though these crowds were out Tuesday, there's a lot more work to be done in the days to come.

"I am encouraged by what I see and hear today, but the hard work must and will continue, and these conversations have to be followed up with strong action," Karen Jones with the Montgomery County-Radford City- Floyd County NAACP said.

Together transforming their outrage and frustrations into positive changes and hoping the crowd brings the conversation back into their own homes.

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