Community gathers for Alton Sterling prayer vigil as protesters rally outside

Community gathers for Alton Sterling prayer vigil as protesters rally outside
Published: Jul. 8, 2016 at 5:06 AM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Louisiana governor was joined by a host of community and religious leaders for a prayer vigil at the Living Faith Christian Center Thursday for the family of Alton Sterling.

Gov. John Bel Edwards was greeted with a standing ovation as he addressed the packed vigil. Among his comments, Edwards promised changes will come to law enforcement agencies statewide.

"I want you to know that we are going to have a renewed focus on training, on retraining, on supervision," Edwards said.

Halfway through the vigil though, protesters from the Triple S convenience store stormed the parking lot outside the church, making their presence known with an impromptu rally.

Onlookers say it is the result of growing frustrations within the community but believe real change will take unity.

"The community is all over the place. I think we have to get on one accord in order to really make something happen," said vigil attendee Tonya Jones.

So far the demonstrations have been peaceful, but State Rep. Denise Marcelle said as more rallies pop up across the city, it will be challenging to keep them all under control.

"I don't know about the ones that are being formed outside of this area. I'll try to keep the ones in this area under wraps as much as I possibly can, but I understand that they're popping up everywhere," Marcelle said. "It's going to be hard to keep a cap on it."

Marcelle said she is praying the protests will remain nonviolent.

"Hopefully people don't come in from out of town and start any disturbances but I'm certain that the state police will step in if necessary. Hopefully that won't happen," she said.

Demonstrations are expected to continue. Local NAACP president Michael McClanahan confirmed there will be a rally at the governmental building downtown Friday and said the group will now start thinking long-term.


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