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Laporte woman organizes law enforcement vigil

BEMIDJI—Members of the Bemidji community, led by a Laporte woman, will once again gather to honor law enforcement personnel at a vigil Tuesday night.

Virginia Overton held a similar event this time last year in order to counteract backlash police across the country faced following the killings of two black men—including Philano Castile in Minnesota. During the same time period, multiple police officers were killed in Dallas and Baton Rouge. Overton said she chose to continue the tradition because violence against law enforcement continues.

"They're still continuing to use cops as targets," Overton said. "They're still shooting cops all over the country, and I just want to make sure that my little part of the world up here, we don't get that kind of mentality."

Tuesday's event, set for 7 p.m. at Library Park, will include "goodies" for the officers in attendance. Overton will read a statement and say a prayer, and Beltrami County deputy Tony Petrie will do a demonstration with his K9 partner.

Overton said community support of law enforcement became more important to her than ever after her nephew recently became a police officer in Omaha, Neb.

"He's only been on the street by himself about a month," Overton said. "People brought him stuff to eat, or water or something to drink and just say thank you. I'd like to see that happen in my community."

If you go:

What: Law enforcement vigil

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 18

Where: Library Park

Grace Pastoor

Grace Pastoor covers crime, courts and social issues for the Bemidji Pioneer. Contact her at (218) 333-9796 or

(218) 333-9796