Philando Castile’s girlfriend shared her daughter’s message of hope with hundreds of people packed into a Dallas megachurch, where an emotional service paid tribute to the city’s slain police officers.
People in Dallas gathered at religious services on Sunday to mourn and pay tribute to the five police officers killed during a Black Lives Matter protest in the city on Thursday.
They looked for a way to heal after the deaths of five officers at the hands of a sniper who opened fire amid protests against the killings of two black men – Alton Sterling and Castile – in separate incidents at the hands of police earlier in the week.
Hundreds of people packed into The Potter’s House, a Dallas megachurch, for an emotional service where Bishop T.D. Jakes called for unity among ‘black folks, and white folks, and brown folks’ in the wake of the week’s violence.
Diamond ‘Lavish’ Reynolds called into a Sunday morning service there to talk about the death of her boyfriend.
Castile, 32, was shot dead by a police officer in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, during a routine traffic stop. Reynolds, live streamed the gruesome aftermath of his killing on Facebook.
On Sunday, she told the congregation that she realized the traffic stop was different when she heard fear in the officer’s voice. She says that when she heard the officer, ‘it instantly clicked to me that this was something bigger than myself and Phil.’
And Reynolds broke down in tears as she recounted the shooting and said her daughter, who was shown on camera comforting her, is still telling her ‘it’s gonna be OK.’
Jakes hosted a ‘Conversations with America’ town hall meeting at The Potter’s House to discuss the recent police shootings in the country as well as the memorial to honor the police officers killed.
Mayor Mike Rawlings was welcomed with applause as Jakes told the mostly black congregation that the city’s police force have ‘done an incredible job’ in honoring the slain officers, ABC News reports.
The victims were Dallas police officers Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, Senior Cpl Lorne Ahrens, Michael J. Smith and Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer Brent Thompson.
Speaking about the Dallas police department, Jakes added: ‘When wickedness raised its head, they stood up for our protection.’
The services on Sunday followed several nights of protests against police brutality in cities across the country.
They started in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where Alton Sterling, 37, was killed on Tuesday after he scuffled with police outside a convenience store.
Castile’s death on Wednesday further fueled the outcry.
Most of the protests have have been peaceful, but Saturday night’s demonstrations in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and St Paul, Minnesota, resulted in hundreds of arrests.
Sterling and Castile’s deaths sparked demonstrations across the country – but in Dallas on Thursday, it turned deadly.
Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, an Army veteran, killed five police officers and wounded seven more when he opened fire at the protest march blocks from from Dealey Plaza, where President John F. Kennedy was shot dead on November 22, 1963 while sitting in an open-air limousine.
He told authorities he was ‘upset with white people and wanted to kill white people, especially white officers,’ according to Dallas Police chief David O. Brown. Johnson was killed by police with a remote-controlled bomb mounted on a robot in the early hours of Friday morning.
The attacks led President Obama to cut a trip to Europe short and return to the United States on Sunday evening.
Obama will travel to Dallas on Tuesday and deliver remarks at an interfaith memorial service, the White House said.
The service will take place at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. The White House says Obama is making the trip at the invitation of Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings.
The attack occurred shortly after Obama had arrived for a NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland.
He cut his visit to Spain short by a day and has spoken daily during the trip about the attacks, calling for police and protesters to ‘listen to each other.’