Members of the Eastern Shore's African-American community returned from Monday's Million Man March filled with a spirit of exhilaration.
But that emotional high was dampened with the news the next day that a Maryland state trooper had been shot and killed in their community, and two black men were charged with the crime.
Troubled by the violent act and its repercussions, the Wicomico County NAACP is calling on members of the African-American community, particularly those who attended the march in Washington, to assemble on the steps of Salisbury's city hall today before the funeral for the trooper, Tfc. Edward A. Plank Jr., as a sign of respect for his family and to stand against drugs and violence.
"We want the community and the family to know we are very serious about doing something about the image of African-American males as far as drugs and violence is concerned," said Warren White, president of the Wicomico County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
"The Million Man March, it was spiritually uplifting just to be in the presence of everyone up there," said Mr. White, whose caravan carried about 70 marchers to Washington. "But so soon after we get home, we have an act of violence here in our community. It just shows the job we have to do. These guys weren't even from our area, but it still touches us here."
Trooper Plank was shot just before 1 a.m. Tuesday on U.S. 13 in Somerset County, near Princess Anne. A 25-year-old man from Manteo, N.C., and a 21-year-old man from Brooklyn, N.Y., were charged with first-degree murder. Police said a pound of cocaine was recovered in their car.
Mr. White said he hopes the race of the suspects does not become a divisive issue. He said Andrew Robinson, who subdued a suspect in his home, also is black.
"Race didn't enter into that guy's mind," Mr. White said.