Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings on Friday called for change and blamed his own generation for allowing racial tensions to “fester,” speaking at a prayer vigil in the city’s Thanks-Giving Square after five police officers were killed and seven were wounded in a mass shooting Thursday night.

The incident happened during a peaceful protest over police brutality, after two black men were killed by police in separate incidents this week, fueling a heated national debate over the treatment of black people by law enforcement officers.

“This is on my generation of leaders. It is on our watch that we have allowed this to continue to fester, that we have led the next generation down a vicious path of rhetoric and actions that pit one against the other,” Rawlings said, as the crowd applauded. “I believe in dealing with this issue, we must step up our game and approach complicated issues in a different way. And race is complicated.”

He also asked the community to “truly and deeply understand” the pain caused by racial discrimination and slavery, which he called “the greatest sin in America.”

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