BEAVERCREEK — This weekend the Beavercreek Wal-Mart parking lot was the site of two rallies relating to the officer-involved shooting of John Crawford III last month.
The first rally was held Saturday afternoon in support of Crawford and his family. Several hundred people attended the event.
Several organizations joined in the rally, including chapters of Al Sharpton’s National Action Network (NAN), the Dayton NAACP, the AMOS Group, the Ohio Student Association, the National Stop Mass Incarceration Network, the Nation of Islam, the Black Brothers and Sisters and the New Black Panther Party.
“We have to know what the truth is before we can say what should happen to these two officers,” said Bishop Bobby Hilton, president of NAN’s Cincinnati chapter. “We’re not trying to pass judgment. We’re trying to get the truth.”
The second rally was held Sunday in support of the Beavercreek Police Department. Event organizer Michael Crain set up the rally through the “I support the Beavercreek Police Department” Facebook page he created last month.
Crain, who is a chaplain with three area police organizations, said the rally was an informal gathering to show support for the Beavercreek Police Department. He estimated that 150 people were at the rally.
“We were all just there talking with each other and just showing our support,” he said. “This is a means to saying that we support the Beavercreek police.”
According to Crain, the message of the rally was twofold: “One was just to send a message to the Beavercreek police that there are people in the community and in surrounding communities that support you … but also maybe a sign to the community to say that, you know, it’s OK to support your law enforcement,” he said. “Sometimes it seems … that support for law enforcement – particularly in an event like this – tends to not be as vocal or as noticed.”
Crain also said they prayed for peace in the community.
“We were praying for the families of the victims,” he said. “It is a tragic event. Wanted everybody that was in our group to keep that in mind. Obviously any loss of life, it’s a bad situation. We have sympathy for the families that experienced a loss.”
According to Wal-Mart corporate spokesperson Brian Nick, the groups reached out to Wal-Mart to let the company know they were coming.
“Our biggest concern was making sure that both associates and customers were able to get in and out and do their shopping, and it appeared to be the case [that they were able to],” he said.
The rallies stem from an officer-involved shooting that occurred in the Beavercreek Wal-Mart Aug. 5. Beavercreek police officers were brought to the scene by a 911 caller that alleged that a man (later identified as John Crawford III) was waving a rifle at store customers. According to police, Crawford did not respond to officers’ verbal commands and was shot. He was transported to Miami Valley Hospital where he died shortly after arrival.
Our partners at WDTN 2 News contributed to this report.
Nathan Pilling is a reporter who covers Greene County agencies and organizations. You can find him on Twitter at @XDGNatePilling or you can call him at 937-502-4498.