LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Over 100 community members and law enforcement officers rallied for the five Dallas Police officers killed while patrolling an area of downtown Dallas during a peaceful protest.
The rally was put together by Lufkin Police Department and the Angelina County Sheriff's Office.
"I think it is important for us to support the Dallas Police Department and honor Chief's Brown request for prayers, but also it is important for us to also support unity and peace as much as possible because we really need it right now," said Lufkin Police Chief Gerald Williamson. "I know Chief Brown in Dallas. I have spent time in training with him and I know he is trying to keep everyone together right now."
The vigil was put together with multiple prayers and a reciting of the Lord's Prayer at the end.
"We are grateful to be able to speak to you at a time like this," Pastor M.M. Lyons said. "We are grateful because even in our darkest and lowest moments you have the power to sustain us."
Lyons, a Dallas native spoke to the crowd just hours after learning a former classmate of his was one of the seven Dallas officers also wounded.
"I saw a post of Facebook about it and then others started talking about it," Lyons said. "My heart is broken that something like this could happen."
On the stage with officers was Pastor Clifford Olford. Olford's niece, Ashley Olford, is a East Texas native and currently serving as a police officer in Dallas. Before the vigil, Olford pinned a letter to Lufkin residents:
To the residence and law enforcement of the city of Lufkin.
I've have been pressed in my spirit to speak to you during this time of travesty of loss of life. Both civilian as well as law enforcement.
I want to encourage this city, not to allow the actions of others to dictate how we live and co-habit with each other. I believe that this city has something, that is different from many others; and that is this. The city and residence of Lufkin, Texas have chosen to "Keep God" in its midst. Both in our individual lives, schools and government. And because of that, I believe that God has and will continue, to keep His hands on this city.
We may not all agree on every issue, but we do agree that God is the answer for what this nation is going through. I hear the ringing of:
2 Chronicle 7:14: "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."
Our nation must turn back to God!
City of Lufkin, let's continue to show this nation the right way to respond to the works of the enemy. But most of all continue to pray for all of the families that have lost loved ones to senseless acts of violence, past and present.
Your Humble Servant,
Bishop C.T. Olford
Breath of Life United Fellowship of Churches, Inc.
Olford said the night was full-on uncertainty as they waited to hear from his family.
"We got the call from her mother, and I said why?" Olford said. "She explained it to us and we turned on CNN. We begin to worry, of course. We also began to pray. She couldn't answer her phone because she was working. When we got a text that she was okay, we were okay. We were able to rest."
Olford urged the community to come together in his message.
"I do not think this is a black and white issue," Olford said. "There is wrong on both sides. That's what we have the law for in a spiritual sense. We have to be spiritual enough to understand why we are in the predicament because the nation has turned away from God."
Lyons told the crowd that Lufkin has always stood together and will need to continue that action to keep East Texas strong and united.
"What has happened with the disconnect I believe is the conversation and communication between law enforcement," Lyons said. "I said it before and I will say it again. I believe it is something Lufkin has. We are able to sit down and talk about things."
Another weekend rally for peace in Lufkin is scheduled for Sunday night from 7 to 8 p.m. at Kiwanis Park.