NIOT Community Response After Devastating Killings: Be Together Now | Not in Our Town

NIOT Community Response After Devastating Killings: Be Together Now

Mourning the violence and division after devastating killings in Texas, Minnesota, and Louisiana, Not In Our Town communities took immediate steps to come together to talk and find ways to heal. Stories and pictures from local events in Illinois, Texas, Massachusetts, Montana, and California are followed by:  Five Ways to Be Together Now

NIOT Bloomington-Normal, Illinois

Not In Our Town inter-faith community prayer service, First Christian Church, Bloomington, IL. (Photo Credit: Mike Matejka)

A crowd of over 400 people gathered at Bloomington's First Christian Church to remember the victims of violence in Dallas, Baton Rouge, and Falcon Heights that have charged the racial divide nationwide. Just days after the killings, Not In our Town Bloomington-Normal organized an interfaith event that commemorated the victims, and also reaffirmed a commitment to this community's stand against hate. The congregation was diverse in religious background, ethnicity, and both community members and law enforcement joined together to mourn. Most local news outlets in the region covered the event.  

"Things like this event help show the community that when tragedies occur, we empathize, we try to understand and we come together to comfort and console,” said Martin Ross, a member of the local anti-discrimination group who helped organize the vigil. "The unity you feel, the solidarity between different members of the community you see, demonstrates why Not In Our Town really makes people feel more secure, safer and included."


(Photo Credit: Mike Matejka)

Prayers and words were offered by Rev. Jim Warren and Rev. Kelley Becker of First Christian, Rev. Frank McSwain of Mt. Pisgah Church, Rabbi Rebecca Dubowe of Moses Montefiore Temple, Iman Abu Emad Al-Taila from Masjid Ibrahim mosque and Divaparthi Bhat, priest of the Hindu Temple of Bloomington. Footage from the vigil: 


Five Things You Can Do To Be Together Now

How can you find ways to help your community BE TOGETHER NOW? We need each other.
Here are some ideas for how to begin to gather our neighbors and fellow residents:
  1. Contact your local NIOT group or Diversity Committee
  2. Attend an interfaith service and/or a community forum
  3. Invite people to your home to have a conversation
  4. Organize a  gathering or town hall at your school
  5. Call NIOT to volunteer in your community
Open Eyes, Open Ears, Open Hearts. Be Together Now to Stop Hate Together.


Dallas, Texas

Thousands of citizens in Dallas gathered around city hall at sunset Monday evening to mourn the lives of two black men and five police officers killed last week. (Photo Credit: Laura Buckman/AFP/Getty Images)

“Find someone of another color,” ordered pastor Jeff Warren. “Find someone who’s not like you today. Tell them that they’re loved, by you.”

A crowd of hundreds bowed their heads for Michael Smith, Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Patrick Zamarripa and Brent Thompson, the police officers killed in Dallas. (Photograph Credit: Erik S Lesser/EPA)

“We need to deal with some things that have been festering within our society that we have been trying to avoid,” Joli Angel Robinson, the manager in the Office of Community Affairs for the Dallas Police Department said. “Poor race relations are real. That’s not just black and white... That is a culture of a variety of people from various backgrounds. We have to learn how to get along here on this one planet Earth that we’ve been given. That is how people can help moving forward.”

Boston, Massachusetts 

After a peaceful protest in Boston that drew hundreds of people to the streets yesterday, the city is holding a day-long event dedicated to examining race relations. The footage and discussions happening across the city in local police stations will result in a one-hour special called "5 on: Race in Boston, A Town Hall Meeting." 

"What is the value of life of people of color? And that’s some cold hard conversations I’ve had out in the community with the youth, with folks my age, and especially seniors who went through atrocities in the civil rights movement." -Boston Police Chief William Gross

NIOT Billings, Montana

Seven candles with pictures of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and all five of the officers who were killed in Dallas lined the altar at an interfaith vigil in Billings, MT. This editorial in the Billings Gazette reminded the community of their history of standing together against hate and called for renewed action. (Photo Credit: Hannah Potes/Gazette)


San Francisco, California 

Interfaith leaders organized a peaceful rally on the steps of city hall, where religious and political leaders led discussions about violence with a group of around 100 people. (Photo Credit: Conor Radnovich/SF Chronicle)

“We’re here about love. Returning violence for violence only multiplies violence.” - G.L Hodge, chair of the San Francisco Interfaith Council and administrator of Providence Baptist Church in Hunters Point.

Peoria, Illinois

 At a vigil in Peoria, police officers and community members joined hands together. The community gathered in prayer and in dialogue law enforcement and community engagement. (Photo Credit: Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio) 

"America has a lot of issues,” Minister Charles Brown said to the two dozen people gathered on the steps of Liberty Park on the riverfront. “It’s not just Dallas, it’s not just Minnesota, it’s not just Baton Rouge, but it’s America who is in mourning … and our hearts are hurting.”

Additional Stories


Bowling Green, Ohio

“It is deeper than sadness”: Thousands mourn at vigil for slain police officers in Dallas

Looking for Accountability 

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