Dallas Residents Process Deadly Shootings Of Police Officers

Jul 8, 2016
Originally published on July 11, 2016 2:14 pm
Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Just blocks away from where the shootings happened in downtown Dallas, there is a white marble, spiraled building that juts into the sky. It's the chapel at Thanks-Giving Square Park. It was dedicated in 1976 to promote unity, and it served that purpose again today as the site of a prayer vigil. Lauren Silverman of member station KERA was there.

LAUREN SILVERMAN, BYLINE: Hundreds of people gathered in the square for the interfaith service. Sweating in the 90-degree heat, Imam Omar Suleiman asked the crowd...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

OMAR SULEIMAN: Is this what it takes for us to have to come together? Does it always have to be a tragedy? Does it always have to be terrorism? Does it always have to be that hatred forces us to love?

SILVERMAN: Suleiman looked across the diverse faces around him and asked everyone to do the same.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SULEIMAN: I want you to look around and I want you to say, this is the America that we want. This is the America that we want.

(APPLAUSE)

SILVERMAN: Suleiman was joined on stage by, among others, a rabbi, a Catholic bishop and evangelical leader T.D. Jakes. Nathan Brown came to Dallas with his girlfriend to hear his minister.

NATHAN BROWN: You can't prepare for this, you know? So I think they've showed a strong response, and hopefully something good comes out of this, bringing more people together instead of driving us apart.

SILVERMAN: Dallas resident Vallery Von still can't believe what she saw last night when she came out of her apartment and cops were everywhere.

VALLERY VON: It was - it was strange because stuff like that doesn't happen here. You know, I've lived downtown for, like, three years now, and I've always felt safe and - I mean, safer than I have even living out in the suburbs. And it was just - I was just shocked, basically.

SILVERMAN: Shocked is also the word Texas Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson uses. She was watching the drama unfold from her office in Washington, D.C. Her district includes downtown Dallas, where the violence occurred.

EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON: It does not pinpoint Dallas as a place of a racial-type bashing. It was a reaction to what is going on around the nation.

SILVERMAN: Of course, many were asking why, including Jeff Hood, who helped organize the Dallas rally Thursday evening.

JEFF HOOD: The only answer I know now and the only answer I knew then was turn to love. We've got to turn to love. We've got to stop shooting. We have got to turn to love. We know that the eyes of our nation, and perhaps even the world, are upon Dallas at this very moment. This is a city of love.

SILVERMAN: Hood says the work of all the activists who were peacefully marching downtown doesn't change after what happened. Their mission is still to teach people to love each other and pursue justice. For NPR News, I'm Lauren Silverman in Dallas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.