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Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings: ‘We Have Led the Next Generation Down a Vicious Path’

2 minute read

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings on Friday called for change and blamed his own generation for allowing racial tensions to “fester,” speaking at a prayer vigil in the city’s Thanks-Giving Square after five police officers were killed and seven were wounded in a mass shooting Thursday night.

The incident happened during a peaceful protest over police brutality, after two black men were killed by police in separate incidents this week, fueling a heated national debate over the treatment of black people by law enforcement officers.

“This is on my generation of leaders. It is on our watch that we have allowed this to continue to fester, that we have led the next generation down a vicious path of rhetoric and actions that pit one against the other,” Rawlings said, as the crowd applauded. “I believe in dealing with this issue, we must step up our game and approach complicated issues in a different way. And race is complicated.”

He called on people to consider both sides of the complicated debate, denouncing police brutality while praising honorable law enforcement officers.

“The question is: Can we, as citizens, speak against the actions of a relatively few officers who blemish the reputation of their high-calling and at the same time, support and defend the 99% of officers who do their job professionally, honestly and bravely?” he said. “I think we can and I think we must.”

He also asked the community to “truly and deeply understand” the pain caused by racial discrimination and slavery, which he called “the greatest sin in America.”

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Write to Katie Reilly at Katie.Reilly@time.com