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(DALLAS) —  The pastor of a well-known Dallas megachurch on Sunday called on the Dallas community and all Americans to unite following a week of violence that shook the nation and highlighted racial tensions.

“It’s not always important that we agree, but if we can at least understand each other, perhaps we can begin the healing process that Dallas needs — that our country needs right now,” Potter’s House Church Pastor T.D. Jakes said on ABC’s “This Week.”

His words come in the wake of the shooting in Dallas on Thursday night that left five law enforcement officers dead, violence that shattered an otherwise peaceful protest organized in response to deadline police shootings of African American men in Minnesota and Louisiana.

“It’s very difficult to be a warmhearted human being and not recognize the pain of a grieving mother, a child who is overcome with grief,” he said. “Whether his daddy was a police officer or whether his daddy was selling cigars on the corner, pain is pain and America is hurting right now.”

The emotional toll of the past week was evident when ABC’s Martha Raddatz hosted a panel of Dallas-area residents, include Police Sgt. Willy Ford and Detective Ron Pinkston, who discussed the tension between police and African Americans.

Ford tried to describe what police encounters are like for men of color, saying, “I think it’s hard for you to understand unless you’ve gone through it. And historically, even I’ve gone through that, as a black male … So until it’s happened to you, I don’t think you necessarily grasp the severity of it.”

Officer Pinkston, who is white, said he views police-involved shootings as a danger to everyone. He said he worries for his teenage sons who he believes are “equally at risk” of violent encounters with law enforcement as young men of color.

“Are we gonna cure all the ills of our country? No. But it only starts if you communicate and [are] having dialogue,” said Pinkston.

Devante Tidwell, an African American and the son of a police officer, said the shootings this week have made him fear for his safety and the safety of his father.

“I laid in the bed and I was like, man, should I start trying to figure out what my dad’s life insurance policy is?” Tidwell said. “And I’m 23 years old, do I need to start to write a will?”

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