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Fort Worth mayor, police chief call for calm in wake of Dallas violence

Mayor Price at Vigil for Dallas police

Mayor Betsy Price's remarks in wake of Dallas officer shootings
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Mayor Betsy Price's remarks in wake of Dallas officer shootings

Saying that he has offered help to the grieving Dallas police department, Fort Worth police Chief Joel Fitzgerald told a noontime gathering in Burnett Park, “We will be there for them.”

Fitzgerald, Mayor Betsy Price and faith leaders gathered with scores of people to hold hands with Fort Worth police officers in prayer to show support for officers in general and Dallas in particular in the wake of Thursday night’s shooting deaths of five officers.

The violent deaths are a “terrible tragedy,” Price said. She said she spoke with Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings Friday morning and told him Fort Worth is “willing to do whatever he needed.”

There are significant social challenges in this country right now and the only way we’re going to get through it is to all come together and talk about it. Violence is not the answer. It’s never the answer.

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price

“There are significant social challenges in this country right now and the only way we’re going to get through it is to all come together and talk about it,” Price said.

“Violence is not the answer. It’s never the answer.”

At the same time, Thanks-Giving Square in Dallas was packed for an interfaith prayer service just blocks from the scene of the shootings. The amphitheater was full and an overflow crowd gathered on a bridge over the square.

Dallas Police Chief David Brown spoke before heading back to work. The shooting was a “well-planned, well-thought-out, evil tragedy. We’re hurting, and we need this community.”

Mayor Mike Rawlings emphasized the nation’s difficult race relations.

“We will not shy away from the fact that we are struggling with racial issues,” Rawlings said. “They continue to divide us. Yes, it’s that word ‘race,’ and we have to take it head on. This is on my generation of leaders. It is on our watch that we allowed this to fester.”

In Fort Worth, Fitzgerald and Price said Fort Worth stressed the need to keep communications open between residents and police.

“This community can pull together during times like this and demonstrate to everyone else out there that we don’t have to have contemptuous relationships with members of our community,” Fitzgerald said. “In times of trouble this community bands together. We don’t separate ourselves by race, creed or color.”

But, Fitzgerald said, “Many times in policing we’re going to have down times, really terrible times, and this is one of them. We’re not perfect. We never profess to be perfect. But when a police officer makes a mistake, I don’t think it ever begets the kind of response we’ve seen over the last few weeks.”

This community can pull together during times like this and demonstrate to everyone else out there that we don’t have to have contemptuous relationships with members of our community. In times of trouble this community bands together. We don’t separate ourselves by race, creed or color.

Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald

“The police protect us,” said Rabbi Andrew Bloom of Fort Worth’s Congregation Ahavath Sholom. “It’s time we return that protection with prayer, appreciation and support.”

In Dallas, the speakers — ranging from Baptist and Islamic leaders to local politicians — quoted scripture and called for love, understanding and equality.

“Many of us do not recognize pain until it’s on our front porch,” Bishop T.D. Jakes said before he led a rousing closing prayer. “As we come together today, we cannot be oblivious to the plight of this nation.”

Religious leaders from all faiths joined together Friday at Thanks-Giving Square to pray for healing a day after gunman opened fire on police officers.

A bagpiper plays "Amazing Grace" at the end of a gathering in Burnett Park in downtown Fort Worth for a moment of silence and reflection on the officers killed in Dallas Thursday night.

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