SATURDAY, June 27 — “I hear your message that police must change,” Lansing Police Chief Daryl Green told civil rights protesters at the Capitol today.
“I respect your calls for change,” he declared. “I seek to codify police reform through policy.”
Green told the crowd that he and City Council members were working with area attorneys on how traffic stops should be handled.
“What should be important?” he said. “Defective equipment? Speeding? Drunk driving? I’ve heard that many people in our community have been stopped for defective equipment that does not pose a danger to anyone.”
Green spoke to more than 100 people attending a “Silent Sit-In Against Racism” on the Capitol lawn. It was organized by Lansing poet and nurse Tamilikia Foster.
“Years, I’ve been told to sit down and be quiet and let things go,” Foster said. “Told it will be OK if we just pray.
“Well, my soul has prayed. And I hear my God telling me to stop waiting. Stop being silent. Stand and be heard!”
“I want you to leave here today and fight for action Say informed. Stay motivated. And I want you to go home thinking about how you can be a part of the solution.”
Her voice cracking, she said: “I’m tired of seeing my brothers and sisters dying. I did this because I’m tired. It’s not the color of my skin, it’s the content of my character. It’s about time the world knows this.”
Green thanked the group for thinking to invite him and said:
“I come humbly before you today during this time of critically importance regarding the police/community relationship.
“I have recognized the disgust we all have at the murder of George Floyd and many other people of color at the hands of law enforcement I, too, worry that my sons will cross the lines of the wrong police department at the wrong time. One that isn’t as progressive in its culture. As a parent, I understand your calls for police reform.”
Another speaker, Shanell Henry, likened the pandemic to American racism throughout the nation’s history.
“We’ve been going through a pandemic for 400 years,” said Henry, who is a community organizer for the nonprofit One Love Global. “Racism is a disease. If we all stay silent, then cases will continue to rise.”
“To our white allies,” she added, “Thank you for standing with us. Because you don’t have to. Our white allies have greater opportunities to have conversations with white supremacists than we do.
“And if you do talk to them, nip it in the bud in an instant. True allies stand for the truth no matter where their feet are planted.”
Earlier the crowd was treated to a “spiritual praise dance” by a group named “Worship Without Words,” whose members come from different area churches.
Said its leader, Heather Taylor: “Let your kids know you appreciate them. These dancers are all ages 7 and up. Don’t they look like they could be doing anything else today? But they’re excited to be sharing their talents with you. Don’t let them down.
“I remind them all the time, ‘You are somebody. I’m somebody. Make sure that people treat you like you’re somebody.”