Dad of slain Ferguson teen urges police-community respect

The father of Michael Brown Jr., the Ferguson, Mo., teen who was fatally shot by a police officer last year, said Friday in Detroit that police officers and members of the public need to work on fostering mutual trust and respect.

Michael Brown’s soft-spoken words were the highlight of a panel discussion at Metropolitan United Methodist Church. He joined more than a dozen lawmakers and community leaders who talked about how to build bridges between officers and citizens.

“The problem is that you don’t have old-school officers,” Brown said. “You don’t have officers in your communities, jumping rope with the kids, playing basketball with the kids, gaining their trust.

“It ain’t you, it’s the uniform they don’t like. They see that uniform, and they get scared. What we need to work on is building trust.”

The death of Brown’s son on Aug. 9, 2014, sparked demonstrations and discussions about race relations across the U.S. Michael Brown, who was 18, black and unarmed, was killed by now-former police officer Darren Wilson, who is white.

Councilwoman Mary Sheffield organized the panel as part of a series of events linked to the Occupy the Corner movement.

“We don’t want what happened in Ferguson to happen in this city,” she said.

About three dozen people attended the event in the church hall. Discussion topics centered on police brutality, race and young people.

Detroit Police Capt. Aric Tosqui said the department has a system through which any alleged use of force by an officer is thoroughly documented and investigated. The department hosts community events, he said, and officers work to get to know the neighborhoods they serve.

Officials said the Occupy events aim to build a bridge between police and the community and to keep young Detroiters alive and out of the criminal justice system. The panel was followed by a rally at Delores Bennett Park.

Wilson was cleared of wrongdoing by a county grand jury and a report by the federal Justice Department. However, the department said it found widespread racial bias in the Ferguson police department and local court system.

Brown said he was in town both for the event and to support a Detroit-based social justice group called the Council on Policy Social Impact.

As he was walking out of the church, Brown said “There’s a lot of work that still has to be done.”

Contact staff writer Ann Zaniewski at 313-222-6594 or azaniewski@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter: @AnnZaniewski.

Michael Brown Sr., the father of the Ferguson teenMichael Brown Sr., the father of the Ferguson teenMichael Brown Sr., the father of the Ferguson teenMichael Brown Sr., the father of the Ferguson teenMichael Brown Sr., the father of the Ferguson teenOccupy the Corner series event was hosted by DetroitOccupy the Corner series event was hosted by DetroitOccupy the Corner series event was hosted by Detroit(From left) Michael Brown Sr., the father of the FergusonJocelyn Benson, the dean of law school at Wayne StateThe Rev. Dr. Ray Mcgee of Metropolitan United MethodistMichael Brown Sr., left, the father of the FergusonThe Metropolitan United Methodist Church in DetroitThe back of Michael Brown Sr.'s shirt during OccupyJoey Donaldson, the founder of the Motor City MassOccupy the Corner rally at the Delores Bennett ParkMichael Brown Sr., the father of the Ferguson teenMichael Brown Sr., the father of the Ferguson teenThe Motor City Mass Marching Band perform at the OccupyOccupy the Corner rally at the Delores Bennett ParkMember of the community speaks to the crowd at theOccupy the Corner rally at the Delores Bennett ParkMichael Brown Sr., the father of the Ferguson teen


http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/detroit/2015/07/10/michael-brown-father-speaks-detroit/29996861/

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