FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Fort Wayne Police Chief Garry Hamilton is speaking out against all the gun violence happening across the country. Sunday, he joined a candlelight vigil at Imani Baptist Temple in memory of two black men killed by police and five officers killed in Dallas last week.
“It was powerful,” Hamilton said.
The church’s senior pastor, Reverend Bill McGill, set up two black candles for the black men shot by police officers in Baton Rouge and Minnesota, as well as five blue candles for the five officers killed in the Dallas sniper attack on Thursday. McGill said the reason they’re honoring all seven deaths is because any life lost is tragic.
He said the whole country needs to take a look at itself.
“We clearly are better than we’ve seen represented in these horrendous acts this week,” he said.
He believes race relations are progressing in America and will continue to do so. He does not agree with people who say things aren’t moving forward.
“This is no example of how things are going to be and I hope this is a clear call to people of good will both black and white, rich or poor, north side, south side to really start embracing one another,” he said. “It’s when we start embracing one another that we start erasing those stereotypes that we have of one another.”
McGill invited Hamilton to the vigil to strengthen the message.
Hamilton called the Dallas shootings “disheartening,” saying no one should be taking justice into their own individual hands. Rather, let the law enforcement and court systems bring justice.
“Let everything come out and then you make the determination,” he said. “Let it go through the court system and let justice run the course itself. So that way, it shows that the system works. Sometimes there may be faults in the system, but we have to let everything come out first instead of making our rush to judgement saying, ‘oh that person is guilty right away,’ or ‘that officer is guilty.’ Let’s take it to court. Let’s bring justice first. Seek truth and justice will prevail.”
He also asked that people be angry about all shootings, not just some.
“We should be angry, period, every time someone loses their life, but when law enforcement is involved with the shooting everyone gets angry,” he said. “As Pastor McGill said today, last year we had a hundred officer shootings around the country, but in Chicago alone so far this year you had 300 African-American males kill each other. Why’s no one up in arms about that, but as soon as an officer gets involved we get angry. We need to be angry, period, about any violence in the city and come together and talk about it.”
Hamilton sent the following letter to the Dallas Police Department Chief, David Brown, on Friday.
We the Command Staff and Members of the Fort Wayne Police Department extend our deepest sympathy to the Dallas Police Department and to the families of the fallen officers.
It is with sorrow and deep regret that the members of the Fort Wayne Police Department share your sorrows.
The Lord will see you through these difficult days. He is a way maker, nothing is impossible with God. May the God of all mankind help and comfort you as you lean upon His everlasting arms. Through this time, keep the faith and trust in the Lord always. Because He is the only one who is able to see you through it all.
‘Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.’ Psalms 30:5
Prayerfully Submitted by,
Chief Garry A. Hamilton
Fort Wayne Police Department”