After the shooting last July that killed five police officers, North Texas residents left flowers, posters, and messages of support outside the Dallas Police Department headquarters. Workers from the Dallas Public Library collected items from the impromptu memorial, but the entire collection wouldn’t fit in the library’s archival room on the seventh floor of its central branch, so staff cleared out room in the basement. That’s where the cards, signs, balloons, and other tokens have been sitting for almost a year. On July 1, items from the memorial will be back out in the open to mark the shooting’s anniversary.
“The handmade ones are the ones that really get you,” says Jo Giudice, the library’s director. Among those are quilts, woodcarvings, letters, and drawings by children. There are also items from other police departments like patches and pieces of uniforms. The tributes will be on display in almost every library branch in Dallas. “Since this affected the entire city,” Giudice says, “we wanted to put something in every neighborhood.”
Giudice got the idea to archive the items while watching the news about a week after the shooting. “They were showing some pictures of the police car they had parked out there with all of the items people had left by it. Then I saw the forecast was for rain,” she says. Giudice and some colleagues rallied a truck and went down to Jack Evans Police Headquarters, where they started moving the keepsakes into the truck and inside the station. “Twelve hours later, it was covered in items again.”
Display cases will feature the items through the end of July. During that month, the library is pairing up with The Dallas Morning News to host a panel discussion with photographers who documented the shooting. Marcia Allert, the DMN’s Director of Photography, will be there to moderate. She’ll be joined by panelists Ashley Landis, Rose Baca, Smiley Pool, and Tom Fox. The event starts at 6 p.m. on July 6 in O’Hara Hall on the 7th floor of the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library.
Last year’s tragedy isn’t the first time the library has rallied to preserve memorials in the wake of violence in the city. “After JFK, Lillian Bradshaw, who was the director of the library in the ’60s, sent a librarian down to Dealey Plaza every night,” Giudice says. “You know, we’re a library. That’s what we do.”