Reflect and Renew at El Centro College After Dallas Ambush

City leaders say many efforts underway to improve community relations

A "Reflect and Renew" ceremony at El Centro College Wednesday demonstrates efforts to heal and unify the city after the fatal ambush that killed five police officers at the college, participants said.

The July 7 attack came after a nearby demonstration against police brutality. The shooter entered the college and continued shooting at police from a second floor window before he was killed.

"We are not that far removed from July 7th," said Assistant Dallas Police Chief David Pughes. "The emotions are still very strong and very raw."

At the ceremony, Pughes read a letter written after the Dallas attack by Baton Rouge Police Officer Montrell Jackson, an African-American man, who was killed later in another attack on police in the Louisiana city.

"I swear to God, I love this city, but I wonder if this city loves me. In uniform I get nasty hateful looks. Out of uniform, some consider me a threat," the letter said.

El Centro College President Dr. Jose Adames said the Dallas attack will never be forgotten, but also will not be allowed to define the city or the college. He said El Centro is a diverse college that reflects the Dallas population.

"We are a very good example of what could be, of what the way forward is – for the city and for others as well – as far as dealing with diversity," Adames said.

Many Dallas efforts were already underway to address complaints demonstrators raised at the July 7 protest, according to city leaders.

City Council Member Erik Wilson spoke at the El Centro ceremony. He represents a Southern Dallas district targeted for many of the programs for jobs and affordable housing.

He said police have also worked to reduce the use of force and improve community relations.

"Those programs will continue, they will continue forward as we as a city move forward, as we have those hard and often difficult decisions about what separates us," Wilson said. "In the end, we want the same things. We want to have safe communities."

Another protest against police brutality is scheduled in Dallas Friday evening. This one is planned on the other side of downtown at Main Street Garden Park, but Adames said it could still wander toward the college.

"We're aware of it and we're watching it," Adames said. "We are very accustomed to seeing demonstrations occur, and we fully expect and hope that it is only a demonstration."

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