People of All Races and Religions Gather in Downtown Dallas to Pray Following Shooting
People of all ages, skin color and religion gathered in downtown Dallas on Friday for a prayer service honoring the 5 police officers slain during a sniper attack on a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest.
The congregation, which was held in Thanksgiving Square, featured speaking appearances from Dallas Police Chief David Brown, Mayor Mike Rawlings, State Senator Royce West and faith leaders of multiple denominations, according to Fox 4 News.
"Our officers are going to need to hear from you more than just today that you appreciate their sacrifice," Brown told the crowd. "To the citizens of Dallas, thank you to all of you for your show of support today. You've shown us that you really do care."
At the request of West, attendees joined hands as they pledged to work toward a solution to the rampant violence and racial tension, including the murder of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of police earlier in the week.
On Thursday, after the evening's protest drew to a close, gunfire rained down upon those marching in the streets. A total of 14 people were shot in the chaos, at least 10 of whom were shot by a sniper aiming from an "elevated" perch.
According to the Associated Press, the sniper, identified posthumously as Micah Johnson after he was killed during a standoff with police, said that he became upset after the deaths of Sterling and Castile and wanted to kill police — especially white officers.
During Friday's prayer service, Rawlings invoked the history of Thanksgiving Square as "a place of thankfulness," built as a gathering place for people of all races.
"We must start with an attitude of change. An attitude of humility, of gratitude that this square was built on," he said.
Rawlings also told those assembled that it was possible to harbor anger toward the few officers who tarnish the reputation of others in their line of work while continuing to "defend the 99 percent of officers who do their job professionally, honestly and bravely."
"Can we as a community truly and deeply understand the pain that racial discrimination has created?" Rawlings added. "Can we do that by being honest about today's shortcomings?"