DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – It has been a tense week in Ferguson, Missouri where authorities have been dealing with violence from some protestors, almost nightly.
By now you likely know the unrest is fallout from the death of an unarmed black teenager who was shot by a white police officer. But it was just two short years ago when Dallas seemed to be teetering on the edge of a similar situation.
The events in the Dixon Circle neighborhood are still very vivid for those who were there.
“It got emotional. Some people were mad, others real emotional.”
Dallas resident Marcus Johnson remembers that hot July afternoon two years ago. Marissa Crayton does too.
Tension and anger boiled under a summer sun on south Dallas’ Dixon Avenue. That’s where a black man was shot and killed by a white Dallas police officer.
A crowd at the shooting scene began growing and police deployed more officers.
But local residents say a similar scene playing out in Ferguson, Missouri is not a reflection of the police versus public standoff in south Dallas.
“Because we’ve learned,” Crayton said adding, “We’ve learned and we’ve listened. Violence is not the answer. It’s really not.”
“We just really wanted justice, that’s all. Just justice. We didn’t want to start a riot. We didn’t want to do that. That’s old,” Johnson said.
Offcials admit things cold have easily turned out different. “You have to say that Dallas was, in a way lucky.”
The Dallas Police Department did dispatch big numbers of officers to assess the Dixon area shooting, and suppress any potential violence. But officials say their department did one key thing to calm emotions in the area, something that isn’t being done in Missouri – communicate.
Lieutenant Danny Williams is a 28-year veteran with DPD. “One of the things we do when we go out to situations like that is make sure that we know somebody in the crowd. Once we see that person that we know we enlist them to help us out with our cause,” he said. “I think in all communities there are lots of citizens who care about their community, those are the people that we need to contact and enlist them to help us.”
Dallas police say that in addition to having officers familiar to the Dixon community on location, they also identified the police officer involved in the shooting very quickly.
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