More than 100 people gathered beneath the clock tower in Esther Short Park on Sunday evening to honor the police officers killed Thursday night in Dallas, and to say thanks to local law enforcement.
The idea for the candlelight vigil started with a group of friends, and a Facebook post made by David Ellis, 30, of Washougal. Not expecting a large turnout, he appeared taken aback by the size of the crowd.
Those in attendance were “a huge testament to how much we care about our local law enforcement, and how we have their backs,” Ellis said. He expressed his gratitude for police officers, who he said will continue to put on their uniform every day despite the dangers they face. “They’re selfless. They’re caring,” he said.
After the group recited the Pledge of Allegiance, Ellis asked for a moment of silence to reflect on the officers’ lives. Some in the crowd removed their hats and hung their heads. Others looked reflectively at their candles, and some shed tears.
Organizers encouraged people to donate money online to the families of the slain officers. Donations can be made at www.razoo.com/us/story/Support-For-Dallas.
A local sculptor also planned to raffle off some art, with the proceeds going to those families.
A few people in the crowd came to the front of the gathering to talk about the police officers in their lives. One man described a good friend who was shot while working in Portland but was able to recover from his injury and return to policing. Another man said his brother was a police officer who died in the line of duty.
One man asked that people not rush to judgment about the recent shooting deaths of black men by police in Minnesota and Louisiana, which are being investigated. The actions of those officers do not reflect the vast majority of police officers, who deserve the public’s respect, he said.
The fatal officer-involved shootings in Minnesota and Louisiana sparked protests across the nation. The protest in Dallas on Thursday night turned deadly when a lone gunman shot 12 officers who were offering protection at the event and two civilians. Five of the officers died.