ROCKFORD (WREX) - Members of the community gathered this morning for a march in the wake of the officer-involved shooting of a man inside a preschool.
About 300 people turned out for Friday morning's march that started at 10:00 a.m. at Kingdom Authority Church, 518 North Court. That's where the two officers shot 23-year-old Mark Barmore. "I believe it was an issue that could have been handled another way, but I think it escalated in to a racial issue," said Varez Watts, who lives in Rockford.
People carried pictures demonizing police officers. "Police are here to serve and protect and not shoot and kill," said Rolanda Johnson, who lives in Rockford.
Black community leaders shouted, "How many of you are ready to march?" and then the chants escalated, until the church came alive and the crowd took their cause outside.
First they headed south on Court Street, at least 200 protestors, all attracting the city's attention, as officers stood by. "I do understand the police point of view. They have a job to do," Watts said.
The crowd's plea continued on to the Public Safety Building where the Rockford Police Department is, then it was off to the courthouse. "No one is above the law. If you break the law like anyone else you need to be held accountable," said Edna Ford, Vice President of the National Action Network of Lake County.
"If this is in fact justified, then it's justified," said Dr. Levern Murphy, President of the New Life Movement.
13 News called the police union numerous times to get its side. It won't comment, but we did catch up with President Aurelio DeLaRosa Wednesday. "I think we have to let the wheels of justice turn and in the end the truth will be there."
Until then the march continues. "A lot of violence and crimes just need to stop and it shouldn't be like this," Johnson said.
The crowd went across the State Street bridge and on to City Hall, where people brought the chanting inside.
The march finally came back to the church where it all began. "A young man has lost his life, regardless of what ever racial problems we have in this city. A young man has lost his life," Watts said.
Black organizations from across Chicagoland came to the march.
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