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Hundreds pack Tampa church for prayer rally against violence and hate

Posted at 9:43 PM, Jul 08, 2016
It has been a bloody week in America. Five police officers murdered in Dallas by a heavily armed sniper and two black men killed by police in Louisiana and Minneapolis.  
 
Those shootings sparked nationwide protests, fiery debates on social media, and relentless news coverage repeating the horrific shooting and it’s aftermath around the clock.
 
It was the news coverage that brought Alana Walker out of her home to talk to another human being at a prayer rally at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Tampa.
 
“I am extremely sad,” Walker said. “And it moved me enough to get me out of the house, not to just sit at home and to keep watching it on the news. Black, white, anyone, there is a lot of tension going on. So, I think events like this community outreach bringing everyone together of all colors, creeds, genders bring us together and lets us have a discussion about it.”
 
More than 300 packed the church. Standing room only as Black Lives Matter organizers passed the microphone around for anyone to share.
 
“This is my first time coming to any event,” Armani Brown said.
 
He explained that he was on social media debating the recent tragedies when someone said stop posting about it and do something. Eloquently, and with pride in his voice he addressed a crowd of faces instead of an internet group without an identity.
 
“Letting my fellow Americans know that black lives matter is not a hate group, it is not a terrorist group, it's not anti-white, anti-cop,” Wood said. To that, the audience cheered and rose to their feet.
 
Sadness, pain, and heartache were all emotions people attending the service are feeling.
 
Shelby Wood hopes the ambush of the police officers won’t turn people against the black lives matter movement to stop police brutality and that everyone realizes that the color of our skin doesn't matter.
 
“All white people ain't bad, all black people ain’t bad,” Wood said.  “But, you do have crazy people and crazy ain't no color; it's just crazy.”