Crowds Pay Tribute To Dallas' Fallen Officers At Makeshift Memorial

Jul 13, 2016
Originally published on July 13, 2016 8:18 am
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

In Dallas, many people have been visiting police headquarters. Here's NPR's Arun Rath.

ARUN RATH, BYLINE: Virginia Pritchett understands why some people distrust the police. She says her white nephew was shot at by a police officer after initially being pulled over for an expired license plate. But she made a point to come to this memorial for the five officers killed last week.

VIRGINIA PRITCHETT: I still support the police because you can't take your anger out on an entire police force because of what a few people have done, just like you can't take racial hatred out on a whole race because what somebody else has done.

RATH: Both citizens and police here spoke of the love they felt for one another. I heard that word over and over. There was sadness and grief, for sure, but so many smiling faces in the very diverse crowd and moments of genuine joy. I lost count of the number of people, mainly people of color, taking selfies with Dallas cops. Tony Thompson and his seven children embraced a couple of officers for a beautiful photo.

TONY THOMPSON: The reason why I took a picture with the officers is because I had a little bit of anger and animosity toward them. And I had to do a reality check to myself. And I'm like, what the H-E-L-L am I mad at these guys for when I've never - in 51 years, I've never encountered a bad officer? So I don't have anything to say about them. I mean, I love them all, man. I love them all.

RATH: Mauricio Negrete also loves the Dallas police, but he has a natural bias. His father serves on the force.

MAURICIO NEGRETE: My dad's been employed by the city of Dallas since I was born. So it means a lot, you know, that the city of Dallas comes out and shows their support for their police department because it's been a big part of my life.

RATH: Negrete gets a little choked up at this point and recalls how, after the shootings, he told his father to be careful.

NEGRETE: It was kind of a two-sided thing, though, because when I told him to be careful, I thought, you know, man, that's really what black men must feel every day in the U.S. because they go out in the streets and they're like - they tell their sons, oh, be careful out there because you might be looked at differently or targeted. But, you know, to feel that, in wake of what happened in Dallas with officers, it really opened my eyes to look at things differently, you know, from both sides.

RATH: Negrete he says he saw both sides come together last week when, in the midst of the horror, police officers risked their lives to protect protesters. He says that is his Dallas. Arun Rath, NPR News, Dallas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.