FORT WORTH, Texas — A memorial for George Floyd began at 1 p.m. Thursday in Minneapolis.
Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus asked his officers – those who safely could at least – to pause at that very same moment.
A few minutes before 1 p.m., officers began filing out of the east division substation on E. Lancaster Avenue.
Others stood together under the shade at a Fort Worth elementary school.
At the school, officers huddled and prayed.
“God allow us to come together like never before so that change may be done right now at this hour,” an officer prayed. “We pray that you’ll bless those who’ve been on the front lines protesting, calling for change, calling for justice. Allow them to know violence is not the way.”
He added, “Give us strength to be able to handle the job we’ve been assigned to do and chosen to do. This job is not for everybody. And God, we pray that those who have taken the job and responsibility of protecting people – they take it seriously, Lord God.”
At the substation, officers kneeled in silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.
Across the country, there have been many unplanned shows of solidarity between law enforcement and demonstrators – but Thursday’s was the first organized show of support from a North Texas department.
“To see and to feel what 8 minutes, 46 seconds felt like – it felt like an eternity,” said Officer Tracy Carter, who knelt outside the substation. “I can’t imagine what Mr. Floyd felt like.”
After 8 minutes and 46 seconds of kneeling, they stood and one of the officers asked if anyone wanted to pray.
A man who just happened to be driving by asked if he could lead the prayer.
He is a local pastor.
“We come as one, Lord. Not as black or white or Hispanic. We come as a whole, as you’ve made us all with the same blood,” he said.
“We pray for our officers all over the land and country,” he said. “We’re just putting it in your hands, Lord. These men haven’t done anything wrong. If they were to stop right now, none of us would have no protection - nowhere around us.”
The pastor ended his prayer asking for change and unity.
“All we’re asking, we’re asking is that we come together. The answer is we stand together, we come together. Just show us the way,” he prayed.
Several officers – both black and white - wiped away tears.
“We don’t condone this,” Carter said about police brutality, adding that Fort Worth officers are trained to intervene if they see colleagues using excessive force.
Asked whether it was hard to speak up to report a fellow officer, Carter said, “No, it’s not hard. If we see something as a police officer, we’re supposed to step in.”
He said the department has instituted changes in the police academy – inviting members of the community to speak to recruits so they can hear from the people they’ll be protecting about fears they have resulting from negative encounters they’ve experienced.
Carter also said he’d love to see some of the people protesting consider joining the force.
“Do we need change? Of course we need change. We’re working on change every day,” he said.
Kraus shied away from being photographed during his pause for reflection, saying he didn’t want it to look like a staged photo opportunity.
Carter expressed the same feelings.
This was not just a gesture or a moment of solidarity, he said.
“It’s not going to end today.”
More on WFAA:
- 'We demand defunding the police': Protester shares list of recommendations in Fort Worth
- A candid conversation with black teens about their views on police brutality and race
- Fort Worth mom speaks about kids at protest: 'I’m not going to allow them to be another statistic'
- SMU professor's tweet about white privilege goes viral
- Fort Worth officer who knelt, was hugged during protest says people 'want to be heard'