LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) — Leaders in Lakeland say they want their city to be a model for America, as hundreds gathered for a peace rally filled with faith.
“Our heartbeat is peace right now. Let’s get our heads and hearts together for healing,” Pastor Scott Thomas from Free Life Chapel said.
Pastor Thomas is one of the organizers of the #OneHeart rally taking place Thursday night at Munn Park.
Pastor Thomas says the rally is expecting hundreds from 25 churches across the Tampa Bay area.
“I think it’s desperately in need of this. All of our hearts are broken. I don’t know anybody I’ve talked to that has not been hurt by the things that have been said and done, things we’re seeing in the media,” Pastor Thomas told 8 On Your Side.
The event started at 6:30 p.m.
“Today we need to know that there’s still a message of hope. We live in America,” Pastor Thomas said. “We can come together and stand side by side, and we’ll work side and side, not care about who gets the credit and find some answers.”
For Keiona Haggins, attending this rally was a calling, one that came straight from the heart. She wants her three children, to feel the the strength and healing in their hometown.
“We could have, of course, let them stay with grandma, but it’s really important that they are a part in seeing history in the making,” Haggins said. “We’re going to push some things forward. I’m very optimistic and I’m very hopeful this is happening”
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd tells 8 On Your Side, he’s proud of his county and the people who live here and says in order to achieve peace, this country has got to be open-minded, willing to talk…and most importantly, willing to listen.
“We can never accept bad things happening, we can never make excuses, we’ve always got to move forward with the community in mind. We do that here, and we’ve got to continue to do that here in Polk County,” Sheriff Judd said.
A community forum on race relations will be held at the R.P. Funding Center on Monday, June 29 at 6 p.m.