America's boiling point: three shootings in three days
DETROIT (WJBK) - The United States is in turmoil this week after three separate shootings - all with race as the center focal point in the shootings or the fallout.
Philando Castile and Alton Sterling were both shot and killed by police officers this week, forcing the issue of racism and police brutality back into the national spotlight. That was followed by the murder of five Dallas Police Officers on Thursday. Now, Civil Rights activists across the country and in Metro Detroit want to make sure Castile and Sterling's lives were not taken in vain.
Sharon Toone brought her grandson to the National Action Network (NAN) meeting on Friday in Detroit to ask the police department for changes. She told FOX 2's Josh Landon that she cautions her children and grandchildren about how to respond if they talk to a police officer.
"I definitely tell my little brothers, my nephews, if police pull you over, hands up. They have the weapon, the badge, and they believe in themselves first over African American men, and it can be harmless. Just driving down the street. It's just sad," Toone said.
Toone's fears are the same many African Americans in our country have and NAN is demanding action. The Detroit Police Commissioner says standards are mandatory.
"We must have national standards for the use of deadly force and train our police to achieve that standard," Detroit Police Commissioner Willie Burton said. "There also must be consequences for rogue officers who refuse to obey by lawful and humane standards and conduct that place a premium on human life."
The shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota were similar: black men shot and killed by law enforcement under similar circumstances and it was captured on cell phone video. It continued Thursday night with the massacre of Dallas police officers. Five were killed, another 12 were hurt by a sniper, apparently out of retaliation from Castile's and Sterling's deaths
"We don't want to see escalation. However, if law enforcement doesn't change its ways, it will cut its own nose off to spite its face," Rev. Charles Williams said.
NAN wants to make it clear they're not against Chief James Craig or the DPD in anyway. At the same time, they say it's time to have more dialogue with Detroit's top cop to improve the relationships between law enforcement and the community.
Charles Williams Sr. says the department has a unique reputation with its citizens but it's not perfect.
"Detroit has a good reputation first of all far as community and police direct conflict. At the same token. It's not perfect and not only that the policies are perfect," he said.
He also thinks there's a way to make it better on the law enforcement side and it's by using the same sayings police have asked the public for: to speak up.
"Code blue needs to snitch," Williams said.
It's also important to note that this isn't a time to paint a broad brush on the police community as a whole, says retired officer Tijuana Morris.
"A lot of law enforcement officers do services that we don't even know about," Morris said.
Back to Toone. The reason she's so concerned with how the children react to police is because they are her family.
"I fear for his life. I don't know what the outcome is going to be when he gets older. He doesn't stand a chance. He's a young African American right now, and history seeing other black men getting slain for no reason. So I fear for his life," Toone said.