Detroit 2020: Sports stars help police and youth build relationships in Detroit

Posted at 6:18 PM, Feb 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-06 18:18:34-05

We have seen videos of both horrific police brutality and heartbreaking police mistakes make national headlines. 

Cleveland Police released video that showed officers shoot and kill 12-year-old Tamir Rice in 2014 as he played with a toy gun in a park. They apparently thought the gun was real. 

In Detroit last summer a Michigan State Police Trooper saw 15-year-old  Damon Grimes riding his four-wheeler.  When he didn’t pull over the trooper tased him.  The boy crashed and died. That trooper is now facing murder charges.  

Speak to youth and you hear their concerns. They often are afraid of or don’t trust police. 

“I don’t trust police,” said Kayla Williams, a high school senior from Detroit.  “I had a bad experience with them as a kid.”

“Just like anything, we are going to have officers who do it wrong, but that doesn’t define the entire agency or profession,” said Chief James Craig of the Detroit Police Department. 

Tuesday Detroit Police and Michigan State Police worked together with the help of pro-athletes to build relationships with Detroit youth at the Unifying Law Enforcement & the communities they serve event at Ford Field. 

Students from schools all over Detroit came to Ford Field for the event.  They listened to speakers and then broke off into small groups. The Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality puts this event and others like it together, saying sports can be a tool for social justice. 

Police, athletes and students simply talked, building relationships. They say in many cases- they made progress.