DETROIT (WWJ) – About 400 people gathered at Hart Plaza for a protest Thursday evening against the shooting of an unarmed teenager in Missouri.
The names of young African Americans killed by police were read before the crowd joined in a moment of silence held nationwide, as well as Detroit.
“We’ve been silent too long,” yelled a man from the crowd after a minute of silence, and the group began chanting.
The rally was hastily put together by activist Whitney Sifax Walker after the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed Ferguson, Missouri teen, by police.
“We’re hurting from Travon Martin, we’re hurting for family members, we’re hurting for people in our community we’re hurting for members of our congregations and of our schools, that have been murdered and killed by police or unjustly detained. This is not a fresh wound, this is a wound that is hundreds of years old,” said Walker.
Lauren Thomas brought along her 13-year-old son.
“I want him to know his rights and I want him to know how to deal with the situations and that his innocence can not always be a protection,” said Thomas.
David Bullock is with The Change Agent Consortium – he addressed the crowd saying, it’s hard to be young and black in the United States of America.’
“All we know is that he was unarmed, something happened, (and) he’s dead. We don’t know who the cop is or what he looks like, and there’s a community in crisis,” said Bullock, “and we need answers so that there can be a resolution. Not just in Ferguson, but around the nation.”
While in Detroit, Police Chief James Craig called for calm – in light of the Missouri case – after an unruly crowd had to be dispersed Wednesday following a police shooting on the city’s east side.
“I don’t want to be bearer of bad tidings but I have to call it like I see, but we’ve had an uptick in the amount of complaints we’ve received – we’ve had situations where people have been called racial epitaphs here by black and white officers and while we see there has been a change in the department it has not been substantive,” said Scott.
Scott says since the department is using more militaristic tactics –especially involving young African American males– it raises the possibility of flare-ups like the incident on the east side Wednesday night when an officer opened fire on a suspect–when police say the suspect tried to run over two officers.
Scott has been a vocal advocate for federal oversight of the Detroit Police Department – which has been in place for a decade but set to expire this month.
He’s pushing to keep a consent decree in place.
WWJ Newsradio reporters Stephanie Davis and Sandra McNeill contributed to this report.