‘Walk in My Shoes’ rally held in Longs, wanting to spark conversations with law enforcement

Officers and community members walked together in Longs.
Officers and community members walked together in Longs.(WMBF News)
Updated: Jun. 21, 2020 at 10:01 AM EDT
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LONGS, SC (WMBF) - Through rain and the threat of severe weather, residents in Longs started the beginning of a hard, but important, conversation Saturday.

And Horry County Police Chief Joe Hill said he’s ready to listen.

“We want to let the community know, we’re here for them, this is a partnership, and it’s always been a collaboration,” he said.

Chief Hill said now is an important time to listen and be there for the community. Saturday’s “Walk in My Shoes” rally provided that kind of opportunity.

Organizer Teona Grant said she’s glad law enforcement is ready to listen and wants the community to know Saturday was just the start.

“My hope for this event is that people leave here empowered, they feel a sense of fulfillment, they know what they need to do next, this is not the beginning and it does not end here,” Grant said.

Despite the rain and severe weather, people still came out and walked beside law enforcement officers from the Horry County Police Department, the Horry County Sheriff’s Office and the North Myrtle Beach Department of Public Safety. They all then gathered to talk about changes community members hoped to see happen in Longs.

Many shared their own experiences with policing and talked about times they’ve been afraid of police in their own lives.

Grant said seeing the turnout of officers gives her hope change is coming.

“I think that speaks volumes, I think that’s monumental. It lets me know that you’re here to support, you’re here to hear and you are willing to hear. That’s the thing. You can listen but not hear,” Grant said.

While policing remained a focus of the event, event speakers also talked about the importance of voting in local elections. Subjects like mental health issues in the black community and other ways the community remains disenfranchised were also brought to the table.

As a black man, Chief Hill said he understands the struggles of the black community. However, Hill said he’s proud of the record his department has, but events like this really are important to continue to connect with the community and to continue to make sure police know the community they are serving.

Rev. Wallace Evans said he wants officers to know they are hurting, but that they want to make positive change.

“It gives me hope that they’re listening to what we have to say. Our community is hurting. Really really bad. And when you are hurting and angry things can get out of hand and we don’t want that. That won’t stop the problem,” Evans said.

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