MARSHALL, TX (KSLA) - The ultimate goal for many in Marshall, Texas, is to unify the community and police. And part of that solution included a unity rally this weekend.
It's the latest chapter in the city's rocky road to conciliation.
At first glance, it all looked like fun and games from a school supply giveaway to free food Saturday in Smith Park.
But underlying the fun was something far more serious - unifying police and citizens. The rally was just one step in that direction.
"Information, communication. When you know better, you do better," City Commissioner Vernia Calhoun said.
While this might be the latest effort at unity between citizens and the public in Marshall, it certainly isn't the first.
In fact, a public forum July 27 attracted a lot of attention. That's when and where District 2 City Commissioner Michael Mitchell was escorted out and arrested after an outburst. The charge later was dropped.
Organizers invited Mitchell to another attempt at a community meeting Aug. 9. He mended differences with the police chief with a hug.
Mitchell's supporters, who turned out for the unity rally Saturday, don't claim the commissioner has acted perfectly in addressing the public division with police. But they do say his actions ultimately had the desired effect.
"What he did, or what the action was, the result of it caused people to take notice," said Leo Morris, of Marshall.
Mitchell added: "The intention was to get the community to communicate and start talking, and, mission accomplished."
The arrival of Marshall Police Chief Eddie Campa at the gathering Saturday came with another hug with Mitchell.
With all parties now moving on from previous conflicts came talk of the next step in conciliation between citizens and Marshall police.
"We want to try to do whatever we can to bridge the gap with our community and show them that there's no reason to be afraid of us," Campa said.
At least at Saturday's event, showing up with ice cream served as the ultimate icebreaker.
Brothers United and Newtown Community Group hosted the rally. Campa and Fire Chief Reggie Cooper served as guest speakers.
- On a related note, Campa and 2 members of his department took the sour Skittles challenge at a separate gathering involving Troop 550.