TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – In the wake of the deadly shootings in Dallas, Baton Rouge, Louisiana and a Minnesota suburb, hundreds of people from the Black Lives Matter movement gathered in Tampa Friday night.
There were no protests at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. Instead, participants urged a message of communication. They called for opening a dialogue. Participants said they want to get more people involved in their movement or to join the NAACP.
It was standing room only as hundreds packed the church.
“It’s to a point where America is at a turning point, a fork in the road, and we hoping that we can make the right decision,” said Andrew Joseph, Jr., as he and his wife, Deanna, stood outside the church.
The couple lost a 14-year-old son, Andrew Joseph, III, in Hillsborough County after deputies ejected the boy from the Florida State Fair two years ago. He died crossing Interstate 4.
“We know how it feels to wake up with loved ones who are not here anymore,” Joseph Jr. said about the officer-involved shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.
They may have been thousands of miles away, but the Joseph family stood in solidarity with the families of the deceased.
The Josephs don’t believe they’ll see justice in their son’s death, even in light of the shootings that have gotten the nation to take notice. “I’m believing that justice will be served in the case in Dallas but I can’t tell you that justice will be served in Baton Rouge or Saint Paul,” Joseph Jr. said.
“Our country is in confusion,” James “Buster” Tokley, Sr., a race relations expert, told WFLA-TV.
Tokley, Sr. has been a Florida Department of Law Enforcement police trainer for two decades.
“Enough is enough,” he said referring to all the violence. “All lives matter. Enough is enough; we must put down the stereotypes.”
During an in-depth interview at the News Channel 8 studios, Tokley, Sr. said the truth is often hard to find, especially when people are too impatient to find out the details.
“If we don’t understand the gray in the black and white of our society, we will never be able to climb out of the cave that we’re in,” he said.