New Era Detroit: don't just protest police brutality, also speak out on crimes against children

Among the many shootings that happened over Father's Day weekend was an incident that hospitalized a father and two children. A 37-year-old is believed to have been the target, but his 11-year-old daughter was caught in the crossfire. 

Another 9-year-old girl's arm was also hit by a bullet, leaving it broken with fragments of the round still in her body when she had surgery.

Amid the mass protests over police brutality and systemic issues of racism in cities, the founder of New Era Detroit wants to ensure its this kind of violence that doesn't get passed over for other forms of brutality.

"What we can't have and what we can't continue to have is kids continuing to get shot and killed in our community while we only stay focused on one thing," said Zeek.

"It's just time for us to get focused on all issues. Not just a part of the issue that's going on in our community, but all issues that plague our community as a whole. We need to stay focused on those things and we don't need to jump off the ledge when we hear about something especially that's not even facts," he added 

RELATED: Search is on for suspect in triple shooting that left 2 children injured Father's Day

Detroit Police believe the facts were misconstrued after an officer-involved shooting on Friday when a deputy shot and killed Hakeem Littleton. The 20-year-old had drawn his gun and fired on officers as they were arresting his friend. 

Soon after, protesters and police clashed after false information about the shooting spread like wildfire on social media. 

"In a matter of a couple of hours, after the word broke you had almost hundreds of people drop down on an area for stuff that they didn't even know about," Zeek said, "but when we talk about the babies that's being killed like you said, we spent time with these fathers and these parents of these kids who are continuously getting shot in our community and it's just us."

New Era Detroit's job as it sees it is to prevent tragedies from ever occurring, rather than seizing on them afterward and reacting. Focusing on proactive solutions by rooting out the problems before they have time to manifest is the best way to prevent tragic incidents like the one that happened at a barbeque on June 27.

But those roots don't start when something starts to grow. It's the fertile soil where decisions and movements can prosper from that must be tended too.

"We practice the mudroots strategy which our organization is built on mud roots, so by the time you get to grassroots it's already something there it's already growth," said Zeek.

RELATED: Crowd gathers at scene where man was shot and killed by police on Detroit's west side

While quantifying the number of people injured by gunfire is easy, the inverse of that is much harder. Activists will never know how many crimes were prevented by safeguards built up in the community.

And what do those solutions look like? They can be community outreach programs offering groceries and other valuable resources to Detroiters, or mentoring high school students and providing security for victims of gun violence. More broadly, it can be galvanizing support for a black-owned business.

"We standing there, it's not a lot of media attention and it's not a lot of people's attention from the community, it's just us and that's what we gotta stop," he said.

But before that growth can start, the gun violence in the black community has to stop, says Zeek. And for those that say their concerned about the latter must first take serious the former.

FOX 2's Randy Wimbley: "It's one thing when that's being used - when it's weaponized against us."
ZEEK: "That's right."
Wimbley: "It's another when we're holding ourselves and looking to hold problematic elements in our community accountable."
ZEEK: "When you talk about black-on-black crime, we don't use that phrase. We have black issues in the black community that we need to deal with. It's black-on-black violence, it's white-on-white violence, it don't matter - whatever capacity you're in, you're going to have violence no matter the community."

"So it's not black-on-black crime, but there are crimes in the black community that we must stay focused on and that we must put on the forefront as well especially when it comes to these kids, our elders, and the women in our community and we cannot shortcut that," he said.

"It's been happening for far too long."