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Detroit Mentoring Group Hosts Event to Bridge Dialogue Between Black Teens and Police

Both teens and their parents questioned current police tactics, wondering how they can be expected to trust the police.
Detroit Mentoring Group Hosts Event to Bridge Dialogue Between Black Teens and Police
Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

In an attempt to restore public trust, a Detroit mentoring organization hosted an open and honest conversation between police officers and city youth, reports The Huffington Post.

Last weekend, BALL Foundation (Bridging Athletic, Learning and Life Skills) along with Detroit Police Chief James Craig sponsored Honor the Line, inviting more than 50 teenagers—predominately Black—parents and grandparents to sit down with Detroit police and voice their most pressing concerns.

“With all the stuff that’s been going on in the world … I look at police officers iffy,” said 16-year-old Adam Harris during the session. “How do you expect for young people just to be cool with authority and all that when we really don’t understand it and the things that we see?”

During the three-hour session, some of which involved role-playing scenarios, police officers listened and offered the teens tips for if and when they must interact with the police. Parents who were in attendance were primarily concerned with the police targeting minorities.

“Why should a young Black child have to act different than a White child with police?” Bill Larkin, who came to the session with his grandson, asked Craig. “We’ve seen it over and over again. There’s always some justification for [use of force incidents]. My concern is, why should my babies have to act differently.”

Craig, who assumed his position in 2013 and who has received generally positive feedback from residents, reminded Larkin—and everyone else—that not all policemen are bad.

Teens had varying reactions to the event, but many felt like the discussion was a step in the right direction.

“[Police] should take their time to put themselves in a citizen’s shoes rather than hiding behind their badges,” Harris said to the Post. “But people should just look at it different too … just stay calm, cool and collected.”