Facebook is just out with 2016’s top 10 global Facebook Live videos. The hilarious clip posted by Candace Payne, aka “Chewbacca Mom,” topped the list. Her video showing her donning that famous electronic mask from Kohl’s was a moment of pure joy the whole world seemed to need.
I’m #4 with a video showing a spontaneous outpouring of love that followed a night of tragedy and sorrow: The video I filmed of people lining up to hug police officers in Dallas the day after five officers were shot to death has been viewed more than 38 million times.
On July 7, Dallas Area Rapid Transit Officer Brent Thompson and Dallas Police Department officers Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, Lorne Ahrens and Michael Smith died when a sniper opened fire on a city street. Suspect Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, was killed after several hours of negotiations with police soured then turned into an exchange of gunfire. Police used a bomb robot to end the standoff.
The next day, hundreds of people packed Thanks-Giving Square Park in downtown Dallas for an interfaith service that featured prayer, music and comments from civic and clergy leaders. Then-Police Chief David Brown received a thunderous round of applause before speaking.
After the service, which featured remarks from faith and civic leaders, musical tributes and prayers, many of those in attendance stood in line to offer their personal thanks to men and women in uniform. Soon, everyone started hugging.
“I felt like what I needed right now was togetherness,” said Katherine Van Dyke, who attended that day with a friend. “I hope this encourages everyone to choose love.”
Senior Cpls. Monica Cordova and Debra Webb were among the officers who started out directing traffic and wound up receiving hugs and handshakes.
“It’s overwhelming,” Cordova said. “We were overwhelmed with grief. Now we’re overwhelmed with gratitude.”
It’s neat to make a year-in-review list, but it is hard to say I’m happy about this.
This summer, my job took me to Orlando for a week in June to cover the Pulse nightclub massacre.
“We’re suffering right now,” bartender Zee Renta said outside a counseling center where one family after another received devastating news. “This is just too much.”
I hadn’t fully unpacked from Florida when it was off to Texas. Before I came back I attended the memorial service for Dallas Area Rapid Transit Officer Brent Thompson at Corsicana High School, his alma mater, about an hour south of Dallas.
His brother, Darrell Thompson, spoke on the family’s behalf.
“We know we’ll see him again,” he said.
July in Texas is hot – really hot – and Red Cross volunteers handed out water bottles to mourners the night of the memorial. No one complained about the swelter.
Navarro County Sheriff Elmer Tanner touched on the tensions between law enforcement and the citizens they serve. The Dallas shootings occurred at the end of a protest march spurred by the shootings of unarmed black men elsewhere.
“Law enforcement is under stresses today unlike we’ve ever experienced,” he said. He was moved by the people who stood along the route into town when Thompson’s remains were brought home.
“I’ve been a law enforcement officer in this community for over 28 years,” Tanner said. “I have never in my life been touched in a manner that I was in bringing our fallen brother home to our city. The outpouring and showing of love – it was a sight to behold and a fitting tribute to such a fine young man that’s gone too early.”
He gave an emotional farewell to his friend: “Rest easy, my brother. We’ll take it from here.”
The photo below has been viewed far fewer times than the viral video, but it’s the image that sticks in my mind when I think about my sad stint in Dallas this summer: the American and Texas flags snapping hard in the hot summer wind, the Lone Star banner melting into the sky.