“This is simply the right thing to do,” said Reverend Amy Lignitz Harken of the Mattapoisett Congregational Church on Saturday, July 16, during an ecumenical service held at ORR Junior High to show community support for local police. “…In a time when the world seems to be falling apart,” said Harken, in reference to these days following the tragic assassination of five police officers in Dallas, Texas, and three officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
To be a police officer these days would, indeed, be difficult, said Harken, “Wherever you are.”
The Marion, Mattapoisett, and Rochester Police were reassured of their communities’ support that morning as over 100 residents turned out to pray for the men and women in uniform and to also pray for peace and an end to racism in America.
“We’re here to acknowledge our law enforcement officers,” said Harken. “We’re also here to acknowledge the scourge of racism in our country … to acknowledge that it is alive and well … and this sin has deadly consequences.”
Mattapoisett Police Chief Mary Lyons stressed the importance of the community and the police coming together in peace during these days.
“We are a nation in crisis,” said Lyons. “I want to thank all of you for your outpouring of support…. It has renewed our faith.”
Rochester Police Chief Paul Magee acknowledged the strength, dedication, and professionalism of his officers, which elicited applause from those in attendance.
“I encourage you to remain positive and to continue to focus on serving your community,” Magee said, adding that he was disheartened after hearing about the Dallas killings on July 7. But then, one by one, the residents young and old went to the officers and arrived at the station bringing hand-written cards, cakes, pizzas, and gifts of words of support for the police department.
“There is very strong support for police in the Tri-Town, and I want to thank each and every one of you,” said Magee. “We need to come together in unity and stay together if we want things to change for the better.”
“It’s not just a job for them,” said Reverend Robert Ripley, the chaplain for the Rochester Police. “It’s not just a place to go every day … or a thing to do. It’s their calling, their duty, their destiny.”
Marion Police Chief Lincoln Miller said a Marion resident approached him shortly after the first shootings and asked him, “Aren’t you afraid to be wearing the uniform right now?”
“No,” said Miller. “I’m proud to be wearing the uniform.” Be proud, he told his fellow officers. “Don’t let things that have happened … all around the country dishearten you … and continue to do the great job that you are doing.”
Attendees shared a moment of silence to pray for the protection of the police and for peace, and the Showstoppers led the audience in the singing of “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”
“I think everybody’s heart is breaking … and we need to come together,” said Harken. “We have to find a place to start, so let’s start here…. It begins with all of us. Light always dispels the darkness.”
By Jean Perry