Joe Biden and Loretta Lynch Mourn Slain Police Officers at Memorial Church Service In Baton Rouge

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. with Dechia Gerald, the widow of Officer Matthew Gerald, at a memorial service Thursday in Baton Rouge, La.  Edmund D. Fountain for The New York Times
Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. with Dechia Gerald, the widow of Officer Matthew Gerald, at a memorial service Thursday in Baton Rouge, La.
Edmund D. Fountain for The New York Times

After weeks of heated discussions about race relations and several days of mourning over the killing of three law enforcement officers here, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch added their voices Thursday to those contemplating life, death and the meaning of community.

“It has touched the soul of this entire nation,” Mr. Biden, speaking at a memorial service, said of the attack by a lone gunman. “Everybody in the country is talking about it. Everybody is learning their stories. Everyone says now is the time to heal.”

The memorial took place at Healing Place Church, where a funeral had been held on Friday for Officer Matthew Gerald, 41.

Similar services in the days that followed shut down parts of Baton Rouge’s interstate system, with mourners lining the streets that led to the other churches for the funerals of Sheriff’s Deputy Brad Garafola, 45, who was buried on Saturday, and Officer Montrell Jackson, 32, who was interred on Monday.

“Now the city has to reach out, the country has to reach out, to law enforcement to let you know how much we care,” Mr. Biden said to the more than 350 people spread out inside the megachurch.

Before Thursday’s speeches began, Charles T. Cravins, 60, said he had driven 63 miles from Opelousas, in the heart of Louisiana’s Cajun country, for the memorial with the expectation that it might bring him and others a sense of closure.

“Hopefully, this represents a turning of the page,” said Mr. Cravins, clutching a program that he rolled up and then unrolled again. “But for that to happen, we need to open a real dialogue as the crisis passes. That’s the next step.”

Passing three empty chairs that held the peaked caps of each dead officer’s department, Ms. Lynch used her time at the podium to urge mourners to look for “meaning in the midst of this tragedy.”

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SOURCE: The New York Times
Jeremy Alford