Days Of Prayers, Protests Across U.S. Follow Police Shootings : The Two-Way In the aftermath of two highly publicized police shootings and the deaths of five Dallas police officers, scenes of protest and prayer have unfolded around the country. Here is a glimpse.
NPR logo The Days After: A Nation Reacts To The Week's Violence

The Days After: A Nation Reacts To The Week's Violence

Worshipers participate in a "United To Heal Prayer Vigil" at Cathedral Guadalupe in Dallas on Friday, in honor of the police officers who were slain on Thursday. Gerald Herbert/AP hide caption

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Gerald Herbert/AP

Worshipers participate in a "United To Heal Prayer Vigil" at Cathedral Guadalupe in Dallas on Friday, in honor of the police officers who were slain on Thursday.

Gerald Herbert/AP

Last updated July 10, 9:23 a.m. ET

People across the country joined protests and held vigils late this week, following two highly publicized police shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota. As those incidents dominated headlines and social media, a sniper targeted law enforcement at a peaceful protest in Dallas, killing five police officers and shocking the nation.

On Saturday, President Obama rejected the notion that these latest tragedies portended the country's return to an era of racial brutality.

"You're not seeing riots and you're not seeing police going after people who are protesting peacefully," he said from Warsaw, Poland, where he was attending a NATO summit. "You've seen almost uniformly peaceful protests and you've seen, uniformly, police handling those protests with professionalism."

Here are scenes of protest, prayer and activism from around the country.

Dallas

Since Thursday's shooting left five police officers dead, several blocks of downtown Dallas have been blockaded, with public access to a large part of the area denied. But at many of the street corners with police cars and caution tape keeping people out, area residents have gathered to sit, think, talk, reflect, cry and pray.

A woman speaks with an officer at a vigil outside Dallas police headquarters in Dallas on Friday. Bilgin Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images hide caption

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Bilgin Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A woman speaks with an officer at a vigil outside Dallas police headquarters in Dallas on Friday.

Bilgin Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

"I don't know how I'm supposed to be feeling, or what I'm supposed to be thinking," said music teacher Nora Woolpert, she sat in the grass across the street from one of the blockades. "All I know is that I can't find a reason to leave, but there is no reason to stay. I don't know what I'm looking at. I don't know who I'm supposed to be talking to, or how I'm supposed to process it."

That sentiment has been present all throughout the city: a need to do something, comfort someone, be comforted, paired with a realization that answers for the hard questions this week raised aren't yet knowable for many.

(Top) A parishioner places a prayer to a crucifix before entering a vigil at Cathedral Guadalupe on Friday, in honor of the Dallas police officers who were slain Thursday. (Left) Dallas police officers comfort each other on Friday near police cars decorated as a public memorial at police headquarters. (Right) Buildings in downtown Dallas are lit with blue to support the police. Gerald Herbert/AP (2); Eric Gay/AP hide caption

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Gerald Herbert/AP (2); Eric Gay/AP

Whether it was outside Dallas Police Department headquarters, where thousands had covered two squad cars with notes, flowers, balloons and candles or all over the city as a multiracial group of Dallas police officers comforted civilians, many in the the city came together in mourning.

It was a direct contradiction to some of the harsh rhetoric to be found online — and often in our nation's politics — over the last few days and months. When a black woman began to shed tears near a squad car, an older white man came to her and wiped them from her cheeks with his hands.

NPR's Sam Sanders reflects on Twitter about his time in Dallas.

People attend a vigil outside Dallas police headquarters on Thursday. Bilgin Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images hide caption

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Bilgin Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and countless other leaders have said that the city needs to enter a time of healing, unite and start having some difficult conversations about race. It remains to be seen whether all three of those challenges will be accepted, but the "unite" part seems to be off to a positive start in the city.

Baton Rouge, La.

(Left) Protesters face off with Baton Rouge police in riot gear across the street from the police department on Friday in Baton Rouge, La. (Right) Pastor Johnny Young blesses Kaleigh Yates, a first cousin of Alton Sterling, outside the convenience store where he was shot and killed. Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images hide caption

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Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images

In this city where a struggle with police left 37-year-old Alton Sterling dead this week, leaders gathered before a crowd on Friday afternoon, extolling Baton Rouge's civil rights history and urging citizens to use nonviolent civil disobedience to respond to the recent tragedies.

But things boiled over during protests outside the Baton Rouge police headquarters on Friday night. Frozen water bottles were thrown at law enforcement officers, demonstrators tried to block a highway and at least 3 people were arrested for inciting a riot, according to nola.com.

Baton Rouge police rush a crowd of protesters and start making arrests on Saturday evening in Baton Rouge, La. Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images hide caption

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Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images

Protests scheduled for Saturday marked the fourth day of demonstrations in the area. The events remained tense and largely non-violent, but led to several arrests as marchers chanting "no justice, no peace, no violent police" walked on the shoulder of a large thoroughfare into the evening.

During the march, police arrested some 30 protesters, officials say, including prominent Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson. He'd been live-streaming the demonstration scene from his smartphone while walking alongside the highway when he was taken into custody.

Police arrest activist DeRay Mckesson on Saturday, during a protest along Airline Highway, a major road that passes in front of the Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters in Baton Rouge, La. Max Becherer/AP hide caption

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Max Becherer/AP

Police arrest activist DeRay Mckesson on Saturday, during a protest along Airline Highway, a major road that passes in front of the Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters in Baton Rouge, La.

Max Becherer/AP

It's unclear what count Mckesson was booked on. In his Periscope broadcast, an officer is heard instructing Mckesson that if "he gets any closer [to the road] you're going to jail." In footage that follows, Mckesson appears to heed the warning, keeping to the shoulder of the road, behind the white dividing line and away from traffic, moments before he's approached from behind with handcuffs.

WWNO reporter Ryan Kailath was also included in the arrests, the Louisiana member station told NPR. He was booked on count of obstructing a highway, reports The Advocate.

Minnesota

In the three days since the death of 32-year-old school cafeteria supervisor Philando Castile during a traffic stop, demonstrators have remained calm while camped outside of the governor's mansion in St. Paul, Minn.

(Left) A memorial at the intersection where Philando Castile was shot on Thursday in Falcon Heights, Minn. (Right) Activists and community members protest the killing of Philando Castile on Thursday in St. Paul, Minn. Stephen Maturen/Getty Images hide caption

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Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

On Saturday, activists protest the death of Philando Castile in downtown Minneapolis, Minn. Stephen Maturen/Getty Images hide caption

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Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Gov. Mark Dayton has met with the protestors several times and said he will not order that they be removed.

Saturday evening brought more heated protests, with a march starting from the Governor's Mansion in St. Paul leading to Interstate 94, where police and protesters clashed as the highway was blocked.

Around The Country

About 1,000 people marched in Phoenix on Friday night, and the protest remained calm until demonstrators tried to move onto the interstate, according to The Associated Press. Police closed freeway ramps and used pepper spray and tear gas to deter protesters. A few people threw rocks at police officers hitting their helmets and protective gear, leading to three arrests.

Marchers numbering nearly 1,000 took to the streets in downtown Phoenix, Ariz., to protest against the recent fatal shootings of black men by police. Freeway ramps were closed and pepper spray and tear gas were used. Ross D. Franklin/AP hide caption

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Ross D. Franklin/AP

A peaceful march in Los Angeles, led by rappers Snoop Dogg and The Game, ended at the police headquarters, where they met with Mayor Eric Garcetti and the city's police chief. They urged the city's leaders to push for better relations between authorities and minority communities.

(Clockwise from top left) Protestors in front of the White House on Friday; Rapper Snoop Dogg is greeted by police officer Beatrice Girmala on Friday in Los Angeles, Calif. during a peaceful demonstration; Hundreds held a rally and march along Market Street in San Francisco, Calif; Madia Alluding (left) and her granddaughter Danielette Johnson hold candles at city hall in Portland, Maine. Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images; Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images; Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images; Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images hide caption

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Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images; Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images; Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images; Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

(Clockwise from top left) Protestors in front of the White House on Friday; Rapper Snoop Dogg is greeted by police officer Beatrice Girmala on Friday in Los Angeles, Calif. during a peaceful demonstration; Hundreds held a rally and march along Market Street in San Francisco, Calif; Madia Alluding (left) and her granddaughter Danielette Johnson hold candles at city hall in Portland, Maine.

Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images; Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images; Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images; Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

In San Francisco, an estimated 2,000 protesters marched from downtown to City Hall, calling for peaceful protest in the face of violence. In Washington, D.C., hundreds gathered in front of the White House, chanting "black lives matter."

(Top) People take part in a protest in Grand Central Station on Friday. (Left) A woman holds a sign during a protest in New York City on Friday. (Right) A protester shouts slogans as people march across the Williamsburg bridge in New York City. Demonstrators chanted "hands up, don't shoot" and "no justice no peace." Kena Betancur/Getty Images (2); Andres Kudacki/AP hide caption

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Kena Betancur/Getty Images (2); Andres Kudacki/AP

People also took to the streets in New York City, starting with speeches in Union Square and then breaking into groups to march across the Williamsburg Bridge into Brooklyn and through Grand Central Terminal, according to The Associated Press.

(Left) A protestor shouts slogans as they march from Manhattan to Brooklyn in New York City on Friday. (Right) Protesters march and shout slogans as bystanders express their support in New York City on Friday. About 300 people took to the streets of New York City to protest the recent police shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota. Andres Kudacki/AP hide caption

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Andres Kudacki/AP