IMG_9796Several thousand people gathered in Thanksgiving Square to honor police and remember the victims after last night’s shootings left five officers dead and seven other officers and two civilians wounded.

A wall of religious leaders and politicians conveyed the unity of the Dallas community. Sen. Royce West noted the diversity of the crowd that included all races, religions and political affiliations.

Of the more than 50 religious leaders, the Rev. Eric Folkerth represented Northaven United Methodist Church, Chris Chism and the Rev. Todd Scoggins represented Cathedral of Hope and Linda Evans represented Congregation Beth El Binah.

Police officers from most departments around the area either attended or were patrolling streets around Thanksgiving Square.

The opening religious speaker said, “We share a common pain. We refuse to hate each other.”

The ovation for Dallas Police Chief David Brown was long and loud.

“Dallas is a city that loves,” Brown said. “We’re hurting. We need this city.”

He said that although the shooter in the El Centro parking lot who was killed this morning told negotiators that he acted alone, the evidence and information from suspects in custody indicate this was a “well planned attack.”

Mayor Mike Rawlings said the JFK assassination more than 50 years ago defined the city.

“Through that tragedy, modern day Dallas was born,” he said. Thanksgiving Square was built a year after the JFK assassination.

He said Dallas would emerge from this tragedy a better city.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who stood directly behind each of the speakers, was never invited to the microphone.