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Dallas: ‘It pains my heart’

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Hobbsans attend vigil outside HPD in support of Dallas police

Kelly Farrell

News-Sun

Five law enforcement officers were slain in Dallas Thursday night and communities across the nation began an outpouring of support, grief and love. The City of Hobbs gathered Friday morning for its part.

Hobbs police officers, fire personnel, City of Hobbs employees, numerous residents and community leaders turned out on short notice outside the Hobbs Police Department for a prayer memorial. An hour and a half before, the city announced an impromptu vigil honoring the fallen Dallas officers to honor a request by the City of Dallas for communities to pray with them at noon Central Standard Time.

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“We all came together today to show support for what happened in Dallas, Texas,” HPD Captain Charles Cunningham said. “Terribly sad day and this is a horrible tragedy that happened in our nation. Yesterday was the second deadliest day for law enforcement since 9/11. I remember how that felt. I was a police officer on 9/11. I was a newly promoted sergeant. I remember how that felt — it was a very similar feeling I had last night.”

He noted the significant turnout of about 100-200 people, despite short notice, and said it was a “testament to the support” from the community for the police and fire departments.

The Associated Press reports five officers died and seven were injured, while another two civilians were wounded in a downtown Dallas shooting that took place during a demonstration to protest the recent shooting deaths of African-American men in Louisiana and Minnesota by police. The five officers included four Dallas Police Department personnel and one member of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit.

Several people at the vigil held up American flags and a blue streamer to signify the Thin Blue Line, as the police department chaplain addressed the audience, which included city commissioners. The vigil was brief and residents scattered afterwards before police units reopened traffic on Turner, between Snyder to Taylor Streets.

“I think that support for the police officers is important because they’re the first we call if something happens,” Hobbs resident Melissa Bartlett said. “Even if you don’t like them, there are people that say ‘oh, well we hate the cops,’ they still call if something happens. They’re always there no matter what.”

She said people of all races, like those in attendance, can “stand together if we want to,” which is an issue addressed by two Hobbs reverends present.

“A tragedy has just occurred and I was told they were gathering and I just wanted to be part of what we’re doing here in Hobbs and to support our local police officers and just encourage them,” Rev. Larron Fields, president of the United Black Clergy, said. “It’s just a horrible thing that happened there in Dallas, but it’s a trend that’s happening in the nation.”

Fields said he believes everyone can come together as leaders to start a dialogue to create solutions for the problem, which Rev. B.J. Choice, Sr., also mentioned.

“I personally wanted to say that all lives matter,” Choice said. “Black lives matter. Police lives matter. All lives matter. The problem is recently it seems like that black lives did not matter, but there’s no excuse for taking another life. It pains my heart and I have a lot of respect for officers who give their lives to protect us.”

Choice added that he’s anti-police brutality and anti-law breaker. According to Choice, local ministry is meeting with Hobbs police, “probably in September,” to discuss what might even be happening in Hobbs like in other places.

“I just think it’s important that we show a lot of love to one another,” he said. “We need each other. We need the police. Lord knows we need the police to protect us. They don’t need to be afraid of … and we don’t need to be afraid of them. We need a coming together.”

Kelly Farrell can be reached at 391-5437 or by email.

Burkett Shaw
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