SNELLVILLE – Black and white people stood hand in hand, united with a common goal to ease racial tension and violence in the wake of the deadly shootings of recent weeks here Thursday.
The Snellville Unity Gathering, organized by Councilman Bobby Howard, drew more than 500 people who heard messages of love, respect, hope and unity from local leaders and clergy.
“I could not be more proud of those that are here and our city tonight,” Howard said, adding those who gathered on the Towne Green on the muggy night were an example for the rest of the nation to follow.
“Tonight we stand in hope and unity on behalf of our entire nation,” said Campus Pastor Trey Hildebrandt of 12Stone Church. “Hey Snellville, we get to be a beacon of prayer and unity for the entire nation”
Snellville Police Chief Roy Whitehead said his department is dedicated to keeping people of all races safe and said for a community to prosper, it must be united.
“The one thing we in our police department want … is for the people here to respect, love and protect one another,” he said. “We want to be one people, unified as a community. Our (police) have a heart of service. If you don’t believe that, you just have to watch and give us the opportunity to prove that. Our people do care. They care about everything they do. So if you need us, never hesitate to call. Our prayers are that we’ll be one together in peace and unity.”
Associate Pastor Paul Thibodeaux of Snellville United Methodist Church likened the racial tension in America to a wound merely covered by a Band-Aid. To heal the wound, he said, discussion and compassion must take place.
“So America, Snellville, it’s time to take the Band-Aid off of the boo-boo and the only way we can do that is address each other in love. How do we do that? We have dialogue. We talk to each other about our own racial story. Everybody has a story if you’re from America. And the only way we can provide healing to that story is that if we expose the hurt, expose the boo-boo, expose whatever we’ve experienced and look each other straight in the face and have a dialogue and find out how more in common we are than we are different.”