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Mom urges people to 'extend love' in wake of police killings, protests

Tiffany Sharell Block has a powerful message to share after connecting with a police officer. And she's not alone: Signs of hope are emerging amid protests and tragedy.
/ Source: TODAY

An Arkansas mom has a powerful message to share after she stopped to talk to a police officer in an effort to connect amid protests and tragedy surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement.

Tiffany Sharell Block's story about the exchange, posted on Facebook, has since gone viral. The mom of four, from Conway, Arkansas, told TODAY her point was to encourage others to spread love, not hate.

"Yes, absolutely, black lives matter," Block, 40, said. "Yes, absolutely, white lives matter. Yes, all lives matter. But guess what? Without love, none of those lives matter."

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"It's going to be love that drives out the evil forces we're faced with," she continued. "Once we learn to love one another, all the darkness begins to dissipate. We have to get out of our comfort zone."

For Block, getting out of her comfort zone meant approaching a white police officer last week outside the grocery store, even as her children, nervous around police officers, begged her not to. In her Facebook post, she explains that "God told me to go and talk with a police officer and extend love."

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She thanked the officer, Heath Edens of the Conway Police Department, for his service, and the two began talking about their lives and families, a conversation that lasted for about a half hour, Block said.

"He was telling me about his daily challenges and I was doing the same," she said. "We were interacting with each other and I was beginning to tell him about my children and how they're afraid of police now, because of the media and everything they've seen. He asked to talk to the kids."

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Edens told TODAY he gave Block's daughters junior police badges and called their conversation "an overall positive experience."

"I think us just standing there and talking and learning about each other is exactly what needs to happen," he said. "Especially in this world we're living in today."

A Dallas Police officer hugged a child who came to pay respects at a makeshift memorial at Dallas Police Headquarters on July 9.CARLO ALLEGRI / Reuters

In the past week, police officers shot and killed two African-American men in Minnesota and Louisiana, and a sniper shot and killed five police officers in Dallas during a related protest.

Block insists her point isn't about her own family — it's that other people need to take action, too. She even coined a hashtag for her movement: #lovematters.

"This isn't something that takes a whole lot of effort," Block said. "It's about that person you see in the grocery store who looks different than you — say hey, how are you doing today?"

Block isn't the only one urging people to channel anger into love. Through the tragedy, slivers of positivity have emerged — like the photo of a young black boy hugging a police officer, or another of people huddling around a stroller to protect a baby during a protest that turned violent.

In Dallas, people lined up to hug police officers after the sniper attack.

And many have taken to social media to echo Block's sentiment that love is the best way to move forward.

"We've got to come together," Block said.