Amid continued national heartache over victims of police-involved shootings and officer deaths in addition to fresh wounds from violence in France, more than 100 Columbus residents joined hands in prayer, hugged, and held to optimism for healing Friday.

Mayor Jim Lienhoop, local police chaplains and leaders of the local African American Pastors Alliance were among those offering words of comfort and hope at a special service of reflection Friday morning on City Hall’s steps.

“I wish desperately that the events that have brought us together had not occurred,” Lienhoop said in his address. He said he agreed with President Barack Obama’s recent assessment that the United States are not as divided as some people think.

He acknowledged that some “may think that society is coming apart at the seams.”

But he reminded people that recent history ushered in Vietnam protests, violence and deaths amid the Civil Rights movement, and assassination of leaders ranging from President John F. Kennedy to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

For more on this story, see Saturday’s Republic.

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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.