Marshall Against Violence and Marshall Police Department joined together Friday, praying for peace in the wake of the deaths of two black men, who were fatally shot by Minnesota and Baton Rouge police, and the shooting death of five Dallas officers who were killed during a protest about the shootings this week.
"It's really close to home," Marshall Police Chief Jesus "Eddie" Campa said during the prayer vigil, hosted by MAV, as he addressed a racially diverse crowd.
"It is two hours away," he said of Dallas' distance from Marshall.
As he reflected on the tragedies that have unfolded, he asked the crowd not to buy into the "racism" theory.
"It ain't about race," Campa said. "It really isn't."
The police chief said one of the things that his department is working on in the Marshall's community is educating residents on how to behave when approached by an officer.
"Some people don't know," Campa said. "If a police officer says put your hands up, put your hands up.
"It's plain and simple. Whether you're doing something wrong or not, just obey," he urged. "There's a reason why we're asking you to do it."
Campa encouraged the audience to join the department in uniting the community by supporting various MPD initiatives such as "No Colors, No Labels" and the Citizens Academy.
"I'm just asking you to help us come together," he said. "If you all really want to know what police officers go through, what we do, come out to the Citizens Academy. You'll see it's not all black and white."
Demetria McFarland, founder and president of MAV, echoed his sentiments. She just completed the Citizens Academy program and said it was an eye-opener.
"Before anybody gets upset and wants to take action into their own hands, come talk to us first," Campa said. "I am not a hard person to find. Set up an appointment and we'll get it done."
McFarland thanked MPD for their support.
"We have a choice today whether we are going to be a part of the problem or part of the solution," McFarland said, indicating not just black or white lives matter.
"All lives matter," she said, as she stood side by side next to her good friend, Lisa Hency, a white woman. "We have to have that dialogue set up with the police department and we have to know what our rights are.
"Go look at the Constitution, read it for yourself, see what your rights are. There's got to be that dialogue, that understanding between us."
City Commissioner LaDarius Carter praised Marshall for being a community that comes together in the midst of tragedy.
"The officials in Baton Rouge and Minnesota have to determine for themselves whether the actions of their police officers took or not, were appropriate," Carter said. "I just want to say as an elected representative of this community, I and majority of my counterparts, we have full faith and confidence in Chief Campa and his officers and the job that they do."
Despite the racism that's prevalent in the world, Friday's diverse crowd was encouraging, he said.
"Look around right now, we have people of all races here together for one purpose and that is to keep our community safe and join together in the face of tragedy," Carter said.
He encouraged them to remember that about Marshall as they see such tragedies unfold on the news.
"Remember where we actually live," Carter said. "We live in a community that pulls together when times get hard. So I want us to keep that in mind; I want us to keep our children safe; I want us to keep our officers safe by remembering the truth that we live in a community that come together regardless of race, or any socioeconomic demographic."