WINCHESTER, VA (June 3, 2020)–A joint statement of solidarity has been released by Winchester City’s Mayor, Police Chief and the Winchester NAACP president:

In a show of solidarity, a joint statement by the City of Winchester’s Mayor John David Smith, Winchester Police Chief John R. Piper, and Winchester’s National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Chapter President W. Thea Thomas has been released in response to the tragic recent death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd. As in many cities across the United States, residents of Winchester have been deeply affected by Floyd’s death.

“I first want to pay my respects to the families of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many other Black lives who have been lost to violence,” began Mayor Smith. “Their lives matter, our lives matter, Black lives matter.” Mayor Smith stated that local leaders, members of the clergy, NAACP members, protest organizers, and law enforcement officers have recently discussed ways to strengthen communications and begin to move forward as a community.

Thea Thomas, NAACP Chapter 7127 president, began by thanking the community for its nonviolent protests. “As the National NAACP and Winchester NAACP stand for social justice and fight against systemic racism, we are looking for change with federal laws and policies,” stated President Thomas. “We need to have conversations with law enforcement departments about policies, including if or when deadly force is used, plus what disciplinary actions are taken against officers when misconduct occurs.”

The Winchester Police Department has made numerous General Orders policies available on the Department website, including policies that govern the use of force. “I want to start by joining others in condemning the events that lead to Mr. Floyd’s death,” stated Chief Piper. “Those of us who are law enforcement professionals are disgusted and disturbed by what we have seen occurring all too often across the country, and it needs to stop. Having said that, the women and men of the Winchester Police Department are professionals, and they are dedicated to transparency and continuing an open dialogue with members of this community.”

Chief Piper also explained that Winchester officers will protect all peaceful protesters who are exercising their First Amendment rights during the protests that are planned for later this week. President Thomas would like to remind citizens engaging in the organized protests to follow local laws, obtain any necessary permits, and to remain nonviolent. She also underscored the importance of continuing to follow recommended health and safety guidelines regarding the spread of Coronavirus.

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