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Leaders in Abilene's black community react to violence

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ABILENE, Texas - Many prominent African American Leaders in Abilene are saddened by the violence that happened this week throughout the nation.

"It's very, very sad," Rev. Iziar Lankford said.

Lankford has been the pastor of the Southwest Drive Community United Methodist Church for more than 10 years. Four years ago he integrated his church bringing the white and black communities together.

Lankford thinks the officer-involved shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota are tragedies that could have been prevented.

"A lot of them are afraid and they act on emotion, but an officer should be able to contain himself where pulling his weapon should be his last resort," Lankford said.

Alton Sterling, 37, was shot and killed by police Tuesday in Baton Rouge. One day later Philando Castile, 32, was shot and killed in his car during a traffic stop in St. Paul, Minnesota.

"A lot of people are afraid of the police," Lankford said. "They don't have to be. There's no reason to be afraid because they're here to protect us. We need to start a dialogue within the community and invite people to get to know the cops."

Abilene City Councilman Anthony Williams hopes the violence stops.

"I'm saddened to see lives lost of young black men," Williams said.

Williams hopes the Abilene community will come together to prevent violence from happening here.

"I hope moving forward that we , at least in our community is work together, so Abilene does not become one of those communities," Williams said.

There will be a prayer vigil for the fallen officers Sunday at the Fountain Gate Fellowship Church at 909 N. Willis.

The event starts at 3:30 p.m. and is open to the public.

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