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Community Leaders Focus On Reconciliation, Healing In Shooting Aftermath

By Rick Sallinger

DENVER (CBS4)- Protesters, community leaders and others are expressing their anger, grief and sadness over the violent events involving police officers across the nation this week. Denver's mayor expressed the need for healing.

"There is no greater covenant than our safety officers and our community, but covenant has been breached," Mayor Michael Hancock spoke during a news conference at the Denver City and County Building on Friday.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock (credit: CBS)

This weekend, the mayor announced the list of churches and other organizations in the Denver metro area that would open their doors this weekend for reconciliation meetings.

At the state Capitol, leaders of the Greater Denver Ministerial Alliance addressed those who gathered at the bottom of the steps, underneath U.S. and Colorado flags lowered in honor of the Dallas officers.

"Something has to stop with policemen who kill young black men across this nation," said Rev. Acen Phillips.

Rev. Acen Phillips (credit: CBS)

The shooting deaths of black men in Baton Rouge, La. and St. Paul, Minn. this week were followed by the shooting of a dozen police officers in Dallas. Five of those officers died.

A protest Thursday night in Denver that began before the Dallas officers were killed was peaceful. At one point, some sat down in the street outside the state Capitol as police stood by, but no arrests were made.

(credit: CBS)

Meanwhile, Black Lives Matter supporters plan to continue a sit-in across from Denver's City Hall through Tuesday for a total of 135 hours — an hour for each of the black people they say have been killed by police across the country this year.


The gathering began Thursday afternoon, several hours before police officers in Dallas were killed.

The head of the NAACP Denver Branch, Sondra Young, said a young white person asked her, "'Hey, you! Can you black people protest without the killing' and I tell 'em, 'If you don't kill we won't have to protest.'"

Sondra Young, head of the NAACP Denver Branch (credit: CBS)

The theme at the gathering of the Ministerial Alliance was "violence is not the answer."

Reverend Patrick Demmer was among those who spoke outside the state Capitol, "But I thank God that Denver is not Dallas. We do not do anger for anger, and violence for violence."

Denver Police Chief Robert White (credit: CBS)

The mayor, Denver Police Chief Robert White, and Executive Director of Public Safety Stephanie Y. O'Malley were asked during their news conference if being black was an advantage.

"Some days, I think it is, some days I'm not so sure that it is," said White.

CBS4's Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.

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