Black Lives Matter Vigil: Toni Smailagic Photo Essay

July 9, 2016 1 comment Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Crowds gathered at the site of Vernell Bing's shooting by police in Springfield at the corner of 9th and Liberty Streets to mark the police shooting deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, LA, and of 32-year-old Philando Castile near St. Paul, Minnesota. Photographer Toni Smailagic was there to capture compelling images of the event.

All Photos by Toni Smailagic

The vigil coincided with nationwide demonstrations against use of force by police following the fatal shootings of Sterling and of 32-year-old Philando Castile near St. Paul, Minnesota.

The shootings stoked racial tension that has flared repeatedly across the country following the 2014 killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen, by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

Castile was killed by police during a traffic stop on Wednesday, and his girlfriend posted footage of the confrontation on the Internet minutes later.

Sterling was killed on Tuesday during an altercation with two white police officers outside a convenience store. A graphic video of that incident caused an outcry on social media.

In Springfield, Vernell Bing was shot down in front of neighborhood children a few blocks from his home.  The crowd learned that no counseling services, no treatment for trauma and no outreach whatsoever has been made to the families and children who witnessed the killing. The shooting follows a string of poorly justified killings in the neighborhood of black residents, beginning with the shooting of Kiko Battles.

“No justice, no peace, no racist police,” demonstrators shouted.

In the wake of a mass shooting at a peaceful Black Lives Matter event in Dallas the day before, police and community officers were ubiquitous and as unobtrusive as possible (generally staying a block away in a perimeter around the vigil) to provide safety for the event.  

In atttendance were to be counted a cross section of Jacksonville: Tonyaa Weathersbee, Hope McMath, Shawanna Brooks, Roosevelt Watson II, Meredith O'Malley Johnson, Chevarra Orrin, Kayla Kelly Pope, Dan Merkan, Dave Schneider, Wells Todd, Joshua Taylor, Alex Palmer, LJ Holloway, Margete Griffin, Thony Aiuppy, Rob Middleton, Bob White,

Toni Smailagic captured these photos, documenting the spirit and feeling of the crowd gathered there.

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