Within the last few weeks America has mourned the death of citizens and police officers across the country.
The killing of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile followed by the killing of police officers Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael J. Smith, Brent Thompson and Patrick Zamarripa caused many Americans to call for peace throughout the nation.
Since these events have occurred many feel there has been a heightened tension between the African American community and police officers.
Throughout the Bronx, various communities held vigils for the lives that were lost and like many of their fellow Americans — pleaded for peace.
Mariam Sanchez, a bronx resident for 28 years and the organizer of the Wednesday, July 13 vigil at PSA 8, acknowledged there is fear on both sides.
However, she said children in the community need to understand in “times of danger police are the safest people in the world to go to.”
She also acknowledged the job of a police officer is hard and it may help civilians if they were able to experience what it is like to be a police officer.
Rev. Raymond Serrano of Life Together Fellowship also spoke at the vigil.
He acknowledged that racism has always existed in this country and that the nation has come along way.
However, he acknowledged the country can “only get better” in race relations.
Experts believe community policing is one way in which relations between officers and the residents they serve could get better.
On Saturday, July 16 and Sunday, July 17, Senator Jeff Klein held the annual basketball game in the Throggs Neck Houses in which NYPD officers played against members of the community.
“We must continue to work together to strengthen police-community relations from the ground up and foster a greater understanding between local residents and those sworn to protect them. Over the weekend, I hosted my annual Throggs Neck Houses Basketball Tournament, which brought together members of the community and law enforcement agencies. Events like these help bridge the gap and send a positive message to our future generations,” said Klein.
On Friday, July 15, the members of the 40th Precinct also participated in the first annual Jessica White Safer Community Basketball Tournament.
Antonio Hendrickson, founder of Lead By Example Reverse The Trend, created the tournament to remember Jessica White, a mother of three, who lost her life to gun violence.
At a scrimmage before the tournament, Hendrickson told teens in attendance that a few bad officers does not represent every member of law enforcement.
He also told them that, despite any anger they may have against police, they should not act irrationally or with violence.
Serrano said he mentors some police officers and always tell them, “Treat others as you would want to be treated.”
The reverend said things must change and people must come together. If not, “innocent people are going to suffer.”