WASHINGTON -- After a heavy week of police–involved shootings and tragedy nationwide, hundreds of people gathered in Freedom Plaza to grieve and to start a very serious dialogue, Sunday.
“We are not going to allow the extremists on either end to dictate what happens in our culture, in our society,” said Reverend Matthew Watley of Reid Temple. One of dozens of churches repressed at the rally for peace and justice.
This, after Alton Sterling was shot and killed by police in Baton Rouge, Philando Castile was killed by a Minneapolis officer, and five members of the Dallas police force were killed following a peaceful protest.
“As law enforcement you can’t have a relationship with the community if you think every interaction you have with the public is going to be a dangerous one. I’ve been a cop for 40 plus years and I will tell you that 99 percent of the interactions I’ve had with the public have been just fine,” Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger said before the crowd of hundreds.
Police and community relationships were a major point of discussion on large and small scales, Sunday.
“I don’t want to get anymore Facebook posts about innocent people selling cd’s and getting killed, I don’t want to see anymore news footage about 5 officers being slain, that’s horrific,” said ANC Commissioner Kathy Henderson.
On 19th Street, in northeast, officers and community leaders walked and talked with people who live in the area having one-on-one conversations that were not necessarily easy or comfortable.
“What amazed me was how once the five police officers were shot, it shifted from the two individuals to now media is only talking about the police officers,” said ANC Commissioner Paul Tranthum.
Neighbor, Melissa Rich expressed, “That’s the hardest part it how do you do it? How do you say that I care about the blue community and I care about the black community and then I also care about all the in-between communities too?”
Overall, everyone agreed, unity is desperately needed.
“You don’t have to pick sides, all lives matter.”