Some people said it was too early to march again in Dallas, only three weeks after four city police officers and one DART officer were gunned down in an ambush that wounded seven others.
But organizers with the Next Generation Action Network went ahead with Friday’s protest.
As the march ended about 8:30 p.m., and the protesters gathered at their starting place at Main Street Park, Dominque Alexander gathered the group in a circle.
“I can’t even tell you how many people called the office and called me everything but a child of God” for having this protest today, Alexander said.
“All the media talked about was that it was too early. They were trying to affect the numbers, trying to get you all to say it was too early.”
Before the march, David Villalobos, chief of staff of Next Generation Action Network, said he had been told there would be no police escort for marchers. And although there was no overt evidence of a police escort, there were uniformed officers along the route, warning protesters to get out of the street, a provision that Villalobos said was agreed to beforehand.
The marchers stopped to pray in the shadow of El Centro College on Main Street where on July 7, police sent in a robot armed with explosives to kill Micah Xavier Johnson, the man authorities say set an ambush for the officers.
Johnson told police during negotiations that he took up arms because of his anger about fatal encounters with police in Louisiana and Minnesota.
“I want to pay respect to the lives that were lost on this soil that we walk on,” Alexander said before leading the crowd in prayer. “Those officers that actually lost their lives shielded protesters. We have to show them respect for what they sacrificed. Those officers actually did what we are fighting for — served their community.”
As police cars passed the marchers and officers started to gather near El Centro, armed with ballistic shields and rifles, protesters howled that they were being peaceful.
“No one will say anything about a group of peaceful protesters being faced by police with ballistic shields and rifles,” Alexander said. “No one will say that was wrong.”
Cory Hughes — whose brother Mark Hughes carried a rifle to the protest three weeks ago and was questioned after the shooting — was one of several people who spoke.
Hughes said they should not lose focus on the reasons that brought them out. Don’t forget the names of black men who were killed by police, he said. Don’t forget the officers who were never indicted for those killings and those who were indicted but were never convicted.
Hughes said none of the groups represented in the march Friday were anti-police. The Black Llives Matter organization hates police corruption and police brutality, but not police officers, he said.
“We hate injustice,” Hughes said. “We hate systemic racism. We hate that black and brown people don’t feel safe when they are pulled over by a police officer.”