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Pro-Police Caravan Sparks Protest After 1,000 Vehicles Stop At Oak Cliff Church

An Oak Cliff church that proudly flies a banner reading Black Lives Matter had nearly 1,000 unwanted visitors gather on their campus Sunday. 

Pro-police riders jammed up the church's parking lot and surrounding streets — sparking a counter-protest Sunday night.

With flags flying — including at least one Confederate flag — the mostly white visitors called themselves the "Back the Blues Cruise," said they were on a mission to support police.

Their motorcycles, Jeeps and other vehicles drove slowly through the parking lot at Friendship-West Baptist Church. There was no violence, but plenty of anger.  

Event organizers Nathan Abrams and Henri Broady, who is Black, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram the cruisers were driving around Dallas-Fort Worth showing support for police.

Pastor Frederick D. Haynes, state Sen. Royce West, Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price and a group of church supporters came out to the church in response to the group, according to WFAA TV

Haynes said members of the pro-police group displayed Confederate flags and political banners supporting President Trump. He said bring such a group to the church was an act of “intimidation.”

"'Blue lives matter,' or whatever you're talking about — at this point, if you ain't saying 'black lives matter,' you might as well have a Klan rally," Haynes said in a video posted to the church’s social media accounts.

Senior Pastor Frederick D. Haynes speaks during a video outside Friendship-West Baptist Church, where a group of undertakers was having a Black Lives Matter rally hours after the "Back the Blue" cruisers left.
Credit Friendship-West Baptist Church
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Friendship-West Baptist Church
Friendship-West Baptist Church pastor Frederick D. Haynes (pictured here) and the Next Generation Action Network led a counter-rally Sunday night after a pro-police group stopped at the church Sunday morning.

The group said it got permission from church staff — but Haynes said the church did not approve the caravan's stop. He added that Friendship-West did grant use of the grounds to a Black Lives Matter demonstration by local undertakers.

Dallas police released a statement saying Back to Blue Cruise organizers asked for a police escort for their caravan, but were denied because the department doesn't provide escorts to caravans. The Dallas Police Department did send officers to the church just before noon Sunday to disperse the group, because there was only one way in and one way out of the parking lot, and backups led to "severe traffic” on Wheatland Road.

Friendship-West supporters raise their fists in the air as they chant "Black Lives Matter."
Credit Keren Carrión / KERA News
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KERA News
Friendship-West supporters raise their fists in the air as they chant "Black Lives Matter," at Sunday evening's counter-rally.

Church members and activists with Next Generation Action Network quickly organized a rally in response — marching from Dallas police headquarters to the doors of First Baptist Church downtown.

Reuben Lael was in the crowd.

“Friendship West has a Black Lives Matter sign on its building, which is rare for a church to be as vocal and visible on their stance," Lael said. "For an organized group that does not agree with that position, to select that site for whatever they planned to do, it’s disrespectful, unacceptable and that’s why we’re out here today.”

The group of around 100 people marched peacefully through downtown Dallas.

Got a tip? Email Miguel Perez at mperez@kera.org and Gabrielle Jones at gjones@kera.org. You can follow Miguel on Twitter @quillindie and Gabrielle @gabrielleNjones.

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KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, in the spirit of Giving Tuesday, consider making a tax-deductible gift today. Thank you.