CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Several city officials and community leaders gathered Saturday afternoon to send a message to the people of Charlotte.
Heal Charlotte, which is a non-profit group that was founded after the protests and riots in Charlotte in 2016, hosted the gathering. The group's co-founders, Greg Jackson and Antuan Smith, have been working with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and the city of Charlotte over the past year to try to improve relations between city leaders and the public.
"We just wanted to get as many people as we could to show that we are united. We are one city and we are coming together to make things happen, real change in Charlotte," Smith said.
Since 2016, Heal Charlotte has formed a free after-school mentorship program and trained with CMPD. The non-profit has also worked with religious organizations, the YMCA and other groups in Charlotte to bring residents closer together.
"If we can change the narrative and put some positivity to it, we can have some people expecting some positive things to happen and that's what we want," Jackson said.
After the violence that broke out in Charlottesville last weekend, the group says racial tension is rising and wanted to send a positive message into the community before it gets out of hand.
"What we have to do is listen to each other, and we may disagree on some things," Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts said. "You can have a protest, and it can be peaceful. That is the best way to bring about change."
The message of peace comes before hundreds are expected to attend a "Call to Action Against White Supremacy!" event in Marshall Park Saturday night, which will be hosted by Charlotte Uprising.