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Weekend Protests In Dallas End With A Prayer Vigil, Curfew And Arrests

Bill Zeeble
Hundreds of people gathered outside Dallas police headquarters on Sunday to pray for an end to racism, violence and police killings. Clergy led prayers with elected officials and other leaders in attendance.

A weekend of protests over the death of George Floyd led to vandalism, arrests and a curfew in Dallas. Gov. Greg Abbott declared a disaster for Texas and Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson declared the same for the city. 

On Sunday, local pastors held a prayer vigil in front of police headquarters.

Pastor Bryan Carter spoke to hundreds of prayerful protesters in front of Dallas police headquarters.

"We gather together to say we are heartbroken and hurt over the continual persecution of young black men by those in law enforcement," Carter said. 

In the crowd, Alisha Brown welcomed the relief of prayer after a weekend of pain and protest.

"If we look at it from what we feel, as far as the physical and what they’re doing to our physical body, we’ll be angry and upset," Brown said. "So if we can come together and get a spiritual point of view then it may give us a better perspective to maybe feel more hope."

Dallas City Council members, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall were all there, quiet under the hot, bright sun. Over the weekend, many had weighed in on last week's death, in Minneapolis, of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was born in Houston. He died after a white officer held a knee to his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Johnson’s words echoed those of many.

“What happened to Mr. Floyd and others before him was brutal and unacceptable and met rightfully with widespread condemnation from police here and across the country," the mayor said. 

And like leaders in some other cities, Johnson and Hall reacted to the vandalism that accompanied peaceful protests with arrests, tear gas and flash bombs.

On Sunday, Hall said it was time to protect her officers and the protesters they’re committed to protect from brick throwers, and people who vandalize thrown into the mix.

"We are commited to keeping the city of Dallas, the residents of Dallas, our partners and police officers safe in this city," Hall said. "We will not tolerate what we are seeing right now."

The protests earlier in the day Friday and Saturday were peaceful, Hall said. After the sun set, though, some factions broke off intent on smashing windows and looting some downtown stores.

The scene was much different Sunday evening. National Guard troops were on Dallas streets directing traffic away from parts of downtown, Deep Ellum, the Cedars, Victory Park and other sections deemed off limits.

Protesters still out on Dallas streets were arrested. 

The city of Dallas imposed a curfew Sunday night -- from 7 p.m. until 6 a.m. It will be in effect for the next several days, Hall said.

Meanwhile, Dallas County closed several of its buildings Monday, including the county administration building, the George Allen Courthouse, Founders Square and Renaissance Tower. 

On Sunday evening, protesters in Fort Worth faced off with police on the West 7th bridge over Trinity River. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Fort Worth police dispersed protesters with tear gas, smoke and flash bombs after a three-hour standoff. Officers led protesters back down West 7th Street and began making arrests around 10:30 p.m. 

Fort Worth and Tarrant County jail records show 50 protesters were arrested. 

Some protesters threw frozen water bottles and fireworks at officers during the face-off as marchers tried to walk from downtown to the West 7th District, according to police. Three officers were injured, the police department said. 

Got a tip? Email Reporter Bill Zeeble at . You can follow him on Twitter @bzeeble.

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Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.