[music] Just ahead on AmericanBlack Journal, the recent rioting in Baltimore againplaces the spotlight on interactions betweenblacks and police.
Today, we'll talk aboutboth sides of the issue; law enforcement reformand how citizens should respond whenconfronted by police.
Plus, we'll get an updateon the progress of the M-1 RAIL project in Detroit.
Stay with us, AmericanBlack Journal is next.
At DTE Energy, webelieve that we have a greater responsibility.
We believe that being partof a community means being involved in thefabric of that community.
Investing time, effort,and resources in the communities we serve.
DTE Energy Foundation is aproud sponsor of American Black Journal.
[music] Welcome toAmerican Black Journal.
I'm Stephen Henderson.
The city of Baltimoreis trying to get back to normal following theviolence, looting, and arson that broke out afterthe funeral for Freddie Gray.
He's the 25-year-old blackman who died of a spinal cord injury whilein police custody.
Gray is the latest blackman to die at the hands of police, promptingprotests and calls for law enforcement reform.
My guest today can relateto the issue from several perspectives.
He's the former mayor ofPontiac who also served as a police officer inthat city for 17 years.
Plus, he's a formerinvestigative reporter for the Oakland Press and hewrote a book called, "The Todd Road Incident".
It's about the shooting ofan unarmed, black Oakland University student by awhite police officer in Alabama duringthe early 1980s.
I'm pleased to welcomeDr.
Willie Payne to American Black Journal.
Thanks for being here.
Thanks for the invite.
So, give me a sense of howyou saw what went on in Baltimore this week.
What does that say to youabout what's going on in terms of the relationshipbetween police and black communities? What happened in Baltimoreis commonplace in what is happening in majorcities across the country.
And certainly there needsto be a need to address it in a more uniformal way.
There needs to be,certainly, police reform across the board.
But, I feel that thoseinvolved, the young men who have been shot bypolice, many of them need to know or should haveknown how to properly respond to police.
And there's a problemacross this country with individuals not knowinghow to properly respond when confrontedby the police.
You and I both know,probably, that the right response could result ineither getting a ticket, getting a verbal warning,being hauled into jail, being drawn into aconfrontation that could cost your life.
So, what I have proposedto do is to try and teach young men how toproperly respond.
Ok, so let's start.
You had two points there.
One about law enforcementreform, the other about how to respond ifyou're pulled over.
Let's start with thelaw enforcement reform.
From your perspective,what are the things that need to change in terms ofthe way officers, maybe, are trained in terms ofhow they're sent out and told what theyoughta be doing.
As it relates to training,I think there needs to be more sensitivitytraining courses.
Courses in ethnicitybecause when you are a police officer, you dealwith a variety of people with differentethnic backgrounds.
For example, when I workedin the city of Pontiac, we had a largeHispanic community.
And, oftentimes, in thesummer, the Puerto Ricans and the Latinswould party outside.
They'd play their musicloud and they'd drink in public as ifthey were at home.
At home, it was ok.
But, in the city ofPontiac, it was against the law.
So, as a police officer,you respond to the scene, you think that thesefolk know that they're violating the lawand they do not.
Now, if I had, if–whenI say I, that police officer, if I had sometraining on the culture of that community, then Iwould know that these folk are simply engagingin activities that are commonplace to where theylive and I would not be offended by it.
But, of course, officersare offended by it.
And, on the same term,the folk, the Hispanic communities, they areoffended by the fact that officers–By theresponse they get.
Yes, because they think,you're just messing with me for no reason.
So, there needs to betraining from both sides.
And that trainingcosts money, of course.
Is that training thatshould happen when people are in the Police Academyor is that something that should go onthroughout your career? I think itshould be ongoing.
It should certainly happenin the Police Academy and should be ongoing.
Probably quarterly becauseyou have to understand, you're dealing with avariety of people, people with differentbackgrounds, different beliefs.
And different kinds ofcultural expectations about how their behaviorwill be responded to.
And, I think, when youhave police departments and police chiefs andmayors who will engage their officers in thosetypes of training, you have a more wellrounded police department.
Ok, so then thesecond part of your recommendation is changingthe way that we talk to young men, especiallyyoung African-American men, about encounterswith the police.
Talk to me about thethings that you're telling young men that you have.
What I'm telling youngmen, I have a–I call it my nine plus one plus oneways to address police.
Or what not to, or whatto do when confronted by police and the numberone thing is to cooperate.
Cooperate with police.
When you look atthose incidences that are happening across America,as it relates to law enforcement andthe African-American community, of course,when young black men are approached by police,there's a high level of resentment there.
First of all, they thinkyou're just messing with me because I'm black.
So, their response isgoing to be very negative.
So, what I'm trying toshow young men is that how you respond to policedictates whether you get a traffic ticket, whetheryou get a verbal warning, whether you getthrown into jail.
It all dependson your attitude.
So, we'resaying, just comply.
If the police are askingyou to do certain things, just do those things.
And one of the questions Ipose to the young people that I talk to, I ask themthe question, if Michael Brown would have simplygotten out of the street when police asked MichaelBrown, cause it relates to the Ferguson incident.
If Michael Brown wouldhave simply gotten out of the street, wouldMichael Brown still be alive today? Perhaps.
And the answers were.
What did they say whenyou ask them that? They were mixed.
Some young folks– Well, I mean, I thinksome people could hear what you'resaying and say, well, this is blaming the victim, Imean and a lot of times, these young menaren't doing anything.
Understand I am notcondoning the actions of police.
When police take the livesof innocent people, they should be punished.
They should be prosecuted.
But, also, I have toexplain to the young folk that prosecution of policeare very rare because you must understand thatpolice and the prosecutors are all part of the samesystem and many of them belong to the samecountry club or go to church together.
And you're not going tohave a large degree of prosecutions when itcomes to– And, so, what you'resaying is, you can be frustrated with the system andyou can be frustrated with the thingsthat are going on, but when itcomes to that one-to-one interaction with apolice officer– Push those frustrationsaside and comply.
Sort of put that–andthat could be very difficult to do.
But, it could, it takesa lot of, lot of, lot of resentment, but whenyou look at the overall picture in its totality,if it's going to save a life, then what we have todo is do what is necessary to save a life.
Preserving a life.
And that'swhat's at stake here.
That's what's at stake.
That if you push back, ifyou, you know, we saw in Inkster recently, FloydDent, he opened the car door and it seemed like hewas going to get out and the officer seemed torespond to that, he seemed to think of that as anact of aggression which it probably wasn't, butperhaps if he hadn't opened the door, theymight have responded differently, but there,again, I mean, I think a lot of people might seethat as you saying, well, you know, these officersare somehow justified for what they're doing.
Well, I hope thatthey don't come to that conclusion because, again,I am not condoning use of force.
What you're saying is youneed both sides to behave differently.
We need bothsides to behave, yes.
And I think the endresult would be, you know, appealing to both sides.
I too was a victim ofpolice brutality, even as mayor.
You were? Ok.
Even as mayor.
Tell me about that.
I was on a road tripdriving from Scottsdale, Arizona to Las Vegas.
I'd never been there, so Idecided to rent a car and go to Las Vegas.
About a mile fromthe Hoover Dam, I was approached, stopped, byseveral police–I knew it was a felony stopfrom the onset.
About five carsdescended on me.
Stopped my car, officersarmed with guns forced me out of the car, handcuffedme, put me on the ground.
Did they tell you anythingabout why they were–? I asked why Iwas being stopped.
I was told to shut up.
And I complied because Iwas there by myself and, you know, I've readstories and cases where you had police shootingsand those shootings were justified.
And, later on, in thestory you find out that the person haddone nothing wrong.
In this case, I haddone nothing wrong.
And I asked, at the pointwhere they allowed me to talk, I did ask questionsas to why I was being stopped.
And you were the mayorof Pontiac at this point? Yes, it didn'tmake any sense.
Got no apology.
But, of course, I leftwith everything still intact because Isimply complied.
And were you able tofollow-up with the department later and getsome sort of response? I made calls to the chiefof police there and other authorities there withthat police department, names I won't mention.
But, I was not satisfiedwith the answers I got.
Well, actually, on thescene, I was told the reason I was stoppedbecause I was speeding.
And I had been–they hadbeen following me– That's not the rightresponse for speedingthough, is it? They had beenchasing me for five miles.
Now, being the observantperson that I am having worked as a police officertrained observer– That's a long way.
[laughs] It was hard forme to to accept.
But, I mean, I think thelesson of your story is comply up front, deal withthe consequences later.
Live to be able to say,what you did was wrong and we're going todeal with that.
If you respond differentlyin the moment, you might not get that chance.
And the leaflet that Igive to those persons I talk to during my townhall style meetings, there's a list of agenciesthat they can call if they feel their rights havebeen violated or they have been treated– That that'sthe right way to deal with these things.
Yeah, so comply,complain later.
Don't fight in the streetsbecause you'll lose.
You do yourfighting in court.
Thank you verymuch for being here.
This is a really great,informative conversation.
Thank you for having me.
Just ahead on AmericanBlack Journal, spring is construction season andone of Detroit's largest projects haskicked into high gear.
We'll have the latest onthe M-1 RAIL project next right after this look atsome important moments in Detroit's black history.
I'm Kim Trent with a lookback at African-American life in Detroit.
This week, in 1955,Doctor Remus Robinson was elected to the DetroitBoard of Education.
He was the first blackto serve in that post.
In 1956, Gotham HotelAppreciation Week kicked off at the black-ownedestablishment located on John R Street, justnorth of Mack Avenue.
And in 1979, EddieJefferson, one of the most unique vocalists inthe history of jazz was fatally shot aftercompleting a set at Baker's Keyboard Lounge.
These are significantevents this week in Detroit's black historytaken from the book: "On This Day: African-AmericanLife in Detroit".
Detroit's M-1 RAIL projecthas kicked off a rather aggressive constructionschedule for 2015.
The modern streetcar willbegin operating late next year along WoodwardAvenue, between Larned and West Grand Boulevard.
This year's constructionplans include laying track in the midtownneighborhood, installing a specialty curved track toget around Campus Martius, and completion of thePenske Tech Center.
Throughout theconstruction, project organizers are vowing tomaintain a clean and safe environment for bothmotorists and pedestrians.
Joining me now from theM-1 RAIL project are Paul Childs, who's the ChiefOperating Officer and Sommer Woods, who'sthe Director of External Relations.
Welcome toAmerican Black Journal.
So, this is a topic thatis near and dear to my heart.
I live downtown, I workdowntown, and I walk back and forth betweenthose places all the time.
So, I see the constructionand I have to, sort of, jump around some of it.
But, you're right, asI said in the open, it really has, sort of,kicked into high gear.
There are tracks nowthat go up almost past the stadium and it's startingto look like a railroad.
[laughs] We did kick this intohigh gear this year.
We've got a lot ofactivity during 2015.
We're actually furtheron than what you would imagine, right? Is that right? We've got some track laidup in midtown already and we're basically throughthe Campus Martius, or, I'm sorry, the GrandCircus Park area.
We're working very hard infront of the Foxtown area.
But, not only are welaying track but, part of the project is with ourpartners, MDOT and, so, there's a complete rebuildof the road, but both of the bridges, I-94and I-75 are also under construction.
And we had a momentousevent last week where we did the deck pour on I-94on the west side of I-94.
So, once that pour's setup and a few other things are taken care of, we'llend up working on the other side of the bridgewhich means if you were used to turning one way,we're going to have you turn the other way.
Go on the other side? As you navigate up anddown our obstacle course.
So, correct me if I'mwrong, but my original memory is that this wasnot supposed to open until 2017, right? So, now, we're gonna be upand running by the end of '16.
We're going to work ashard as we can to get to that point.
The project is comprisedof four different pieces.
So, what you're seeingright now is what we call Package A, right? And Package B.
So, Package A is the mainline construction along with all the roadwork.
And Package B is thePenske Tech Center.
Yeah, tell me about–I'mnot sure if I'm totally familiar withwhat that is.
So, what that is, in oldparlance, right, from the streetcar days, it'sthe car barn, right? Ok.
And it'll also be–Where the cars go home.
That's where they gohome at night and it's operational headquarters.
And that's just onthe other side of the boulevard on the eastside of the street there between Custerand Bethune.
And we've got a fairamount of activity going on up there, also.
And, Sommer, this is adisruptive project in the sense that it'staken over the street.
But, I hear from shopowners and other providers on Woodward that youguys have been pretty good about trying tomake sure they're not too disruptive.
Yes, we work very hard.
Nicole Brown, who's on ourteam who does an awesome job and Domeda.
They actually are onthe streets everyday.
Talking to vendors,talking to all of our business owners, trying tounderstand accessibility.
What are their concerns,what are their issues, and making sure that we cangive them the tools that they need to communicateto their customers, as well.
So, for us, it's importantthat they are happy as much as possible becausethe goal of this project is to create economicdevelopment and for people to sponsor it.
To be a part of theseparticular activities that are taking place downtown.
When will we start to seeconstruction of the rail stops, the stations? So, you're actually seeingpart of that going on right now.
So, the first piece thatwill go in is the civil piece, or thebases, right.
So, that's being doneas part of the roadwork.
And then during '17, orI'm sorry, during '16, you'll see what we call avertical elements going in.
So, you'll actually seethe stations starting to pop up.
You'll see the newstreetlights going in, you'll see the newoverhead catenary poles being installed.
All that is for next year.
You know, the criticism Ihear of M-1, and I don't hear a ton, but, I do hearpeople saying, why are we concentrating on 3.
5 milesof track that really does not connect, you know,downtown to any of the neighborhoods or to thesuburbs when we should be looking at maybe bus rapidtransit as the idea for RTA.
What's the answer to that? Why is this an importantproject and why is it worth as much moneyas being spent on it? Well, it's importantbecause it's very catalytic for just,overall, bigger picture of transportation.
So, bus rapid transit,obviously there's still research that'staking place for that.
It can stillhappen, as well.
I think the thing that wehave to learn to do here is to think of multimodes of transportation.
It's not either/or.
It's not either/or.
We can all co-exist.
And the other thing that'simportant with this is that it does connectmultiple communities.
I mean, it is downtown,midtown, new center, north end, those arecommunities.
And, so, that's what'simportant is to understand that, you know, with ourproject, it also becomes a $60 million match by thefederal government that if it's a project thatconnects to our system, they can get $60 million.
If that's BRT, if that'san extension of the line, whatever the case may be.
But, also, we havea stop at Amtrak.
So, when you have allthese conversations– So, you're connecting -absolutely.
Ann Arbor people that workin Ann Arbor and live in the city, and vice versa,so, it is about multi modes of transportationand getting us to think a little bit differentlyversus just getting in our cars let's rideour bicycles.
This is what wedo every day.
Well, what aboutthe people mover? Will there be a stop thatconnects the M-1 to the people mover? Or multiple, I guess it'llcross it twice at Grand Circus Park anddown at Larned.
So, Grand Circus Parkis probably the closest location, right, and,obviously, that stop, for the people mover hasbeen under construction.
That's closed, anyway.
But, that's to beopened shortly.
It'll be open inadvance of our opening.
So, it'll workout perfectly.
But, the other thing weall have to remember, as Sommer pointed out, wehave to think about modes of transportation.
And part of thatis walking, right? We don't do alot of that here.
Or we don't like to.
There's no city you cango to that has public transportation that saysyou don't have to walk a couple of blocks to beable to catch it, so.
What about thepossibility–so, let's say we get, you know, we getto this point and it's open and you can rideup and down to Grand Boulevard, what's thepossibility to take it further out Woodward andwhat's the possibility to, maybe, make it, you know,go on to other streets, Gratiot, Michigan Avenue,the sort of spur streets that we have in the city? So, let's talk aboutthat just a little bit.
So, the first piece is isto understand, all right, that we have a regionaltransit authority now and they have a role, right? They're supposed to beplanning transit for everybody.
And we interact very, youknow, on a regular basis.
I was with 'em yesterdayfor a couple of hours.
So, our team is integralin terms of working on that planning.
But, that is MichaelFord's role and the RTA's role, all right, andrepresented by the four counties for them tocome up with a plan.
And, obviously, there's areferendum that should be on a ballot proposal latenext year in order to help fund that.
But, the corridors thatyou named, the Michigan Avenue, the Gratiot,Woodward, there are what we call alternativeanalysis going on right now.
Right? To understand the mode.
And, as we said before,there's more than one way to travel.
So, it may be you dosomething there and maybe it's not a train.
Maybe it's the bus.
And maybe it's thebus rapid transit.
And there's more than oneway to move people around, so.
What–how willpeople ride this car? I imagine that this is notgoing to be like the old trolleys that we had orthe streetcars before those trolleys.
What will be the way thatpeople pay for the light rail? What will theynotice about how this is different from anythingwe've ever had before? It's funny that you–Iactually just came back from Atlanta.
They have the Atlantastreetcar there and one of the reasons why I reallywanted to go there was to understand the farepayment process and, what that process is.
You look at a lot ofstreetcars across the country in order to makesure that they maintain headways, they havea trust but verify.
So, you have a fareinspector who's on the streetcar that checks tomake sure that you paid your fare.
That you paid.
But, also, to Paul's pointabout the RTA, the other conversations thatare taking place is the connectivity withthe other modes.
So, conversation withSmart, with DDOT, until there is the fulltransition with the RTA.
You have a card thatyou can– Can I transfer from– Absolutely.
Which, obviously, that'sbeen a conversation that's been taking place intransit for 100 years here.
It's sort of anargument, really.
And, so, our goal isto be a part of that conversation and make surethat connectivity is key because, again, wewant those that are transit-dependent to beable to use it and those that are, you know, livein the area, visiting in the area, it is truly amode for everyone that is going to be in the area.
And the cars themselvesare very modern, you know, they're very sortof forward looking.
This is gonna be a sortof a cool thing to have in the city, right? And there's a coupleof cool things to think about.
First of all, the lasttime there was a streetcar in a street inDetroit was 1956.
And, so, many of thepeople that are probably watching this programdon't remember that, right? So that's a bigstep forward.
But, the other thingthat'll be different here in Detroit is theoff-wire technology.
So, we will actually beable to navigate well past 50% of our entire runup and down the corridor off-wire.
Oh, really? All right? And that's gonna be aunique thing that's starting to takeroot in the industry.
But, by far, we will havepushed it the furthest.
So, Detroit will beback again as a leader.
Out front in terms oftaking this technology and pushing it asfar as we can, so.
And the cars, how theyinteract with traffic, I think a lot of people areconcerned about, you know, will traffic be ableto move around them? Will they get right ofway on traffic lights? How's all thatsupposed to work? So, it does go withthe flow of traffic.
We go with theposted speed limit.
So, we are stationary.
So, there's an educationalcomponent that has– So it'll stop at redlights and– Absolutely.
It will stopat red lights.
You will see, forsome intersections, that there's going to benew lighting signals.
There's four lights andone is a white light that is transit only.
That's for the transit.
So, there's a littlebit of a headway, but not much.
But, it is, you know,going to be a significant education component forus to understand how to co-exist; cyclists,pedestrians, and car, as well.
And I want to give you achance to talk about–you have some programinvolving youth here in the city.
So, we're excited.
One of the things that hasbeen important for us from the beginning of thisproject is to make sure that it is aninclusive project.
So, not with ourconstruction workers, that when you look out intothe field, it's diverse.
It representsthe community.
So, it's not justthe construction side.
There's another side.
You have engineers, youhave communications, those are within communityrelations and, so, we're teaming up with MayorDuggan, you know about the 5,000 jobs.
Sure, the young peopleworking in the summer.
The Grow Detroit's YoungTalent and, so, we're partnering with them andwe're looking for nine interns.
We actually have ourapplication process on our website.
The application deadlineis May 11th and we also have just an informationsession that's going to be on Tuesday, May 5th at theMatrix Human Services at 6:00 that people canlearn more about it.
But, we're looking forDetroiters, qualified, again, looking atdifferent ways to make sure our young people– Come out and bea part of it.
Absolutely, are apart of this, as well.
Ok, we'll I'm lookingforward to that day I can step out my doorand get on the train.
We are, too.
[laughs] I feel likeit's coming soon.
Thank you guysfor being here.
Thanks forhaving us, so much.
That's ourprogram for today.
Thanks for watching.
You can get moreinformation about our guests atAmericanBlackJournal.
And, as always, connectwith us on Facebook and on Twitter.
Plus, you can also hearour program on WDET 101.
We'll see you next time.
[music] At DTE Energy, we believethat we have a greater responsibility.
We believe that being partof a community means being involved in thefabric of that community.
Investing time, effort,and resources in the communities we serve.
DTE Energy Foundation isa proud sponsor of American Black Journal.