After days of anger and confrontations between police and protesters in North Texas, there seems to be a shift – where tense moments have cooled into peaceful demonstrations. And now, it’s evolving into conversation.
NBC 5 crews witnessed that Wednesday night during a community gathering at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in South Dallas.
On Thursday night, a similar moment of peace and conversation will be taking place in Forney.
A Pray for Peace gathering will be hosted at 7:30 p.m. at Mick Spellman Amphitheater at the Forney Community Park. Gates open at 7:10 p.m.
The event, organized by Forney mayor Mary Penn, aims to bring together community and church leaders amid the fear, pain and uncertainty.
"I want us to all come together in unity. I want to have peace and love. And people need hope,” said Mayor Penn.
There’s a growing list of speakers, including community members and local pastors from different churches, races and backgrounds. Some of those speakers include:
- Darrly Mallow, community member
- David Griffin, C Life Pastor
- Thomas Fitzgerald, Eastside Church of Christ Pastor
- Rocky Hernandez, C Life Pastor
- Daymond Patterson, local business owner
- Marty Reid, Trinity Family Church Pastor
- Jimmy Pritchard, First Baptist Church Pastor
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Daymond Patterson, a fitness trainer and business owner of The Raw Power Team in Mesquite and Forney, spoke to NBC 5 about his message of understanding he hopes to share.
“Everyone can’t understand something that they’ve never been through or that’s never happened to them. But we all can’t give an effort to try and understand. We can all try to have empathy,” he said.
Beyond understanding, Patterson said accountability is just as important.
“So now you’re telling me you try to understand my side of the story and what I’ve been through in my life, what happens when all of the emotion is gone from events like this? And a year from now, you see something happen, are you going to speak up?” he said.
Patterson said he’s noticed a shift on social media he’s never seen before, with more people posting links to petitions, books, podcasts and other materials for non-people of color to understand the systemic racism that has existed and continues to exist in society.
“People who were silent on social media, silent in their private groups, silent everywhere -- they’re speaking out now. I see companies that worry about their bottom line as much as anybody -- they’re speaking out now. Big-time coaches are speaking out. I see entertainers speaking out,” he said. “I’m seeing a bigger majority than I’ve ever seen before trying to get together in that one direction.”
Patterson said he hopes what happened to George Floyd and so many before him never happens again. But that means meaningful dialogue that we’re starting to see across the country will need to continue and policy changes will need to take place.
"The person that it happened to now, they didn’t think it would be their son or their dad. And I hope that you can sit back at the end of the day and say that yeah, I tried to help somebody and that’s all I’m trying to do. I don’t have all the answers. But I know that I’m going to try and help find a solution,” said Patterson.
He added, "I feel like if we can truly go into these conversations, these sit-downs, these rallies, these protests -- you have to go in there to try to learn. We need to try and sit down and say, ‘You know what, I’m not coming here armed with rebuttals. I’m coming here to listen to what you have to say and hopefully understand.”
Mayor Penn said people from across the Metroplex are invited to attend. You don’t have to be from Forney to be a part of the dialogue and prayer. While they’re certainly not expecting the full capacity of the amphitheater, Penn said there is room to social distance because the space usually holds up to 5,000 people.
"We're all in this together. We've got to step out,” she said. “We can't fight darkness with darkness. You need light. And how can we do that?”
A symbolic moment is also planned at sundown to light candles and sing the song, "Amazing Grace." We are told the Forney police chief and city council members are expecting to attend the gathering tonight.
Pray for Peace
When: Thursday, June 4 at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Mick Spellman Amphitheater at the Forney Community Park, 241 FM 548 in Forney