On Saturday night, people met at the northernmost tip of Klyde Warren Park in downtown Dallas to spread peace after five police officers passed away in a gunfire ambush about a week ago.
“Love in the Streets,” as the event was called, brought together musicians from around the metroplex who volunteered to play for attendees. Through music and love, the leaders of the event said they hoped to help the community heal.
“I feel like the media tends to paint these communities that have these tragedies happen in a negative light and oftentimes it’s not representative of what the community contains,” said Andy Welker, the initiator of the gathering. “We want to do this to show people the community is still together and that there’s still a lot of love to be had here.”
Welker originally planned for just his friends to come out to the park and sing. However, after posting about it on Facebook and receiving positive feedback, he created an open event on the social media platform. By the end of the night, the page had been shared with 6,400 people — 795 of whom RSVP’d “yes.”
The Dallas Mavericks “Maniaacs” and dance team were also at the event, passing out shirts that read, “#DallasStrong.” Other volunteers held banners that read, “Love in the Streets” and waved them at passing cars. A portrait artist and a clown were also in attendance, lending their talents to “Love in the Streets.”
The volunteer musicians all set up near Klyde Warren Park. Each group would play two or three songs with a positive message as attendees walked around the block, stopping to listen and sing along.
Welker said fellow leader Colin Phillips was also an instrumental part of putting the evening together. Phillips said he had extra motivation to help out, since he was present at the protest on July 7.
“Me and my friend … were involved with the protest,” he said. “Everything having to do with that, the emotional effect that it had on us was incredibly potent.”
As a result, he volunteered to team up with Welker for “Love in the Streets.”
“We thought, ‘Let’s get together and just spread some positivity,’” Phillips said. “The root of this being all of the heaviness that was weighing on our shoulders, but trying to make it a positive thing.”
Welker said the event was intentionally non-political and non-religious. Phillips said keeping neutral and offering love was what the city really needed.
“(There) is a necessary conversation that we should be having,” Phillips said. “But we also need to realize that it is a conversation, and that it is about positivity in the end. We have to listen to each other and respect and love each other first before we have that conversation.”
On the night of the protest, he said he had a moment of realization while in a car on his way home — safe — that remained relevant at Saturday’s event
“We’re in a moment of history right now” – Colin Phillips, a leader of the “Love in the Streets” event
“We’re in a moment of history right now,” he said. “This is a pivotal point. … I think before things get worse, you have to come at it with the most positive attitude you have.”