While others gathered in streets around the United States, protesting police brutality, a smaller group of residents met in Southfield on Tuesday to talk about change at the local level.

Cedric Hill, 26, of Detroit organized the session for the dozens of people who turned out, including two Detroit police officers. Hill is a member of the Greek Letter Fraternity Omega Psi Phi and coaches youth football with the Southfield Lathrup Falcons.

He applauds the actions of the protesters, he said, but it’s time to make sure the cries for change translate into policy. 

“My mother is tired, my grandmother is tired,” Hill said of the deaths of African Americans in custody. “I did the same thing years ago when Trayvon Martin was killed … it’s time for phase two.” 

The gathering was called a “family meeting” because “when the family is broken, we congregate as a family and talk about it,” Hill said. It was held in the parking lot of a former Howard Johnson hotel in Southfield and billed as a chance to talk about what generational changes are needed, how to affect policy decisions and African Americans’ fears of interacting with police.

“Every time my brothers leave the house, I fear for their lives,” said Wisdom Hill, Cedric’s sister. 

Hill called for youth to do more than protest. 

 “… That’s why we are out here also trying to get people registered to vote and help them understand how they can make a difference outside of just protesting,” she said.  “A lot of times we just have to elect the officials. They are ready and they want to talk to us and we just have to let them.” 

Detroit police Lt. Kevin Robinson, from the department’s  6th precinct, said the officers involved in the Minneapolis arrest of George Floyd, who died on Memorial Day, “deserve to go to jail.”

“They were wrong,” Robinson said.

Robinson said there are a lot of areas for police to improve upon. He said the Detroit Police Department continues to focus efforts on building relationships with the community.  

“Good policing is as simple as being able to talk to somebody,” he said. 

Thomas Calhoun, 20, of Detroit and a student at Howard University, attended protests in Southfield, Detroit and Troy this week. Calhoun said it was time to plan for what happens after the protests cease. 

“This next election we are going to bring about results,” he said.

Hill said he plans more discussions with police and residents. He wants newer generations to learn to break the cycle of police brutality, he said.

“We can protest for the next 100 years and nothing will change, or this next generation can get to work and be a part of the solution … we can’t expect to make changes from the sidelines.”

Jasmin Barmore is a freelance writer.

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