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A Virginia black pastor implored the community to view the police as allies during an “All Lives Matter” meeting Saturday.

Pastor Larry Miles hosted a city forum with Richmond city leaders to discuss the rising crime rates in the city, reports WRIC.

Miles said it’s important for people to realize that “all live matter” because the police sacrifice their safety for the public.

“All lives do matter because the policemen put their lives on the line everyday when they’re going out to protect and to better that relationship. They’re not our enemies and the city needs to understand that,” Miles declared.

Crimes in Richmond increased from 2015 to 2016. Forty-three homicides were committed in 2015, while sixty-two murders were committed in 2016, according to Richmond Police Department data.

A big reason for the event was to bring the community and police together to foster a better relationship between the two, Miles added.

Councilwoman Ellen Robertson and the Richmond city deputy police chief also attended the event, answering questions from participants on violent crimes in the city.

“When we start talking about community and ‘all lives matter,’ I think it’s important to understand why we have violent crime where people are taking the lives of folk who they know,” Robertson told WRIC.

Miles added that it’s important for the black community to work on stopping “black on black crime.”

“We’re saying that black lives do matter in the black community, so I want the black lives in the community to come together to preserve, to protect, to show love and not hatred, to stop the black on black crimes,” Miles said to WRIC.

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