A group of about 100 stood silent, with their eyes closed and looking down in front of the Monroe County Courthouse on Friday night.
The group of law enforcement officials, family members and members of the Bloomington community remained that way for a few minutes, before raising their heads once again to return to the candlelight vigil planned by family members of local law enforcement officials.
The events Thursday night in Dallas prompted this group to form around the flag pole in front of the courthouse, which was raised at half mass to honor the five police officers killed the night before.
“It was a pretty overwhelming response,” Sara Hunter said. “I’m pretty delighted with the support and I’m thankful everybody could get together and comfort each other.”
Hunter helped organize the vigil Friday night with the assistance of a couple other wives of police officers in Monroe County. The vigil comes after five officers were killed when a gunman opened fire during an otherwise peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas.
The protest was in response to the shootings of two African-American men by uniformed police officers in Minnesota and Louisiana.
But during those minutes of silent prayer, Hunter said she wasn’t praying specifically for police officers or for the two men who lost their lives in the last week. Hunter was simply praying for peace and that’s what she will continue to do in the coming days.
Those who attended were encouraged to wear blue and were given blue glow sticks to hold once they arrived in front of the courthouse in downtown Bloomington.
The vigil was short and simple. A few quick words, followed by the few minutes of silent prayer and then closing remarks, given by a speaker who wished to remain nameless so as not to take away attention from the law enforcement officials who the event was for.
“I’m happy we could come together to be strong, steady and to honor the lives that were lost,” the speaker said to start the vigil. “We send out loved ones out to do their jobs with pride that makes us proud.”
Some in attendance weren’t directly connected to law enforcement officials in Dallas, like Paul White Sr., who is also running to be a commissioner in Monroe County.
White’s father was a police officer and White said in many ways people were more caring and understanding in that time.
“It’s unfortunate that we have become a society where we target individuals because we don’t like the color of their skin, their ethnic background, any particular orientation or their job,” White said. “I remember somebody once asking, ‘Can’t we all just get along?’”
All law enforcement officials in attendance, making up about half the crowd, wore black bands around their badges.
They had no part in organizing the vigil, that was all done by family members.
“It means a lot to all of them I think that everybody is supportive and praying for them,” Hunter said. “We don’t want to see anybody not come home at night.”
Once the silent prayer was over, the remainder of the vigil was brief — they wanted to get everyone home at a reasonable hour.
But before those in attendance left the lawn in front of the courthouse, the speaker had one last thing to say.
“I think the most appropriate way to move forward is to look at the men and women around us and say, ‘Be safe.’”
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