Protesters March Peacefully Through Downtown Dallas Demanding Better Policing

“I think it would be an injustice to those officers who lost their lives if we allow these issues to be pushed out and not addressed.”

By Stephanie KuoAugust 1, 2016 10:14 am, ,

From KERA News:

At least 100 people marched peacefully through downtown Dallas to protest policing tactics Friday night.

The demonstration, organized by a nonprofit, the Next Generation Action Network, came just three weeks after a similar protest, which ended in a deadly shooting that killed five Dallas police officers and injured nine others. Two civilians were also wounded.

What was billed as a “silent” march did not begin silently.

Dozens marched closely together, many linked in arms from Main Street Garden Park to Lamar Street and back. Some wore “Black Lives Matter” T-shirts. Some waved signs that listed the names of black men who’ve been shot by police – Alton Sterling in Louisiana, Philando Castile in Minnesota and 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Ohio.

Marcher Ernest Walker III, who is black, carried two painted baseball bats – one black and one blue, joined together by a slab of wood. The words “Build Bridges, Not Walls” were painted on it.

“We need bridge gaps, and in order for us to be able to bridge gaps, we need to build bridges between ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘Blue Lives Matter,'” he said. “But we’re saying we do matter. Everyone has a son or daughter they want to see come home, and we want to see our kids, sisters, brothers, and fathers come home as well.”

His son, Ernest Walker IV, marched too. He said he was protesting not just for unity between the police and the black community, but for true understanding.

“I have my life planned out already. I have potential to be something. And most of the time, that doesn’t get communicated whenever an officer is involved in a shooting like that because it escalates too quickly and nobody really understands each other,” he said. “These people, both of them, officers and citizens have dreams, have futures, have potentials, families.”

The protest was originally scheduled for last week, but organizers postponed it after Dallas police raised concerns that it was too soon following the shootings on July 7.

“Right now we need change,” said Dominique Alexander, founder of Next Generation, who addressed the crowd through a megaphone. “Many of those people who are saying it’s too early – you’re not the ones out here sacrificing your life or your time out on the forefront addressing these issues of racial injustice. I think it would be an injustice to those officers who lost their lives if we allow these issues to be pushed out and not addressed.”

He continued: “How do you heal? You heal with change. You don’t heal with the status quo.”

During parts of the march, police urged protesters to stay out of the street. No violence erupted, and the protest ended peacefully.

Alexander said that while black lives matter, so do police lives and so do the lives of all citizens — and that the protest was not anti-police, but rather anti-corruption and anti-injustice. The protesters said prayers for the officers who died on July 7 and expressed their gratitude for their service.

“These officers actually did what we are fighting for: serve the community. So I definitely want to pay homage to them,” Alexander said.

There are plans for another demonstration at Dallas City Hall on Aug. 10.

See more photos of Friday’s demonstration at KERA News.