Anti-violence group plans Detroit ‘Peace Zone’
A Detroit-based anti-violence group hopes to bring lessons of conflict resolution to residents of one city neighborhood in an effort to reduce crime, and improve police and community relations.
The Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality announced Tuesday plans to create what it calls a “Peace Zone” in the area where Wayne State University police Officer Colin Rose was shot and killed in November.
The area, bounded by Warren, Martin Luther King and Grand River avenues and the Lodge Freeway, is where the coalition’s founder, the late Ron Scott, grew up, said Kenneth Reed, spokesman for the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality.
“It was only fitting with that fact along with what happened with Officer Rose, we felt it was imperative that we launch a peace zone over here,” Reed said as he stood outside I Am My Brother’s Keeper church on Brainard inside the zone’s boundaries.
Rose, 29, was shot in the head on Lincoln and Brainard on Nov. 22 while investigating thefts from vehicles in the area. Police arrested a suspect, but charges were dismissed. The investigation “went into another direction,” according to police, who continue to investigate.
Programming is set to begin next month in the Peace Zone and will include training for residents on conflict resolution, peer mediation and leadership skills, Reed said. The goal is to reach residents through churches, schools and community organizations.
“If there’s conflict, we want to be able to get to the point where we can resolve our conflicts without resorting to violence and having to get the Police Department involved,” Reed said. The program also provides information on how to improve interactions with police.
The group has already started programming on the east side with the organizations Feedom Freedom Growers in the Jefferson Chalmers area and the Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership in the Islandview neighborhood.
The group’s meetings draw a mix of ages and races, said Detroiter Myrtle Thompson-Curtis, co-founder of Feedom Freedom Growers, a community garden group. A series of meetings were held at the garden on Manistique in the summer and fall, she said.
“It’s necessary to be everywhere,” Thompson-Curtis said. “Those conversations are very much needed. I’m sure there are people who will be partaking in the conversation and more than happy to see something being done on the community level.”
Reed said the initiative appears to be working after a reduction in property crimes.
“It’s been very helpful,” he said. “We’ve seen improved social relationships between the youth and the older people in the area.”
The work will start with a survey of residents and groups in the area to gauge perceptions of police and community relations, said Chris White, director of operations for the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality. Also to be discussed is violence, including crimes against women. Issues related to the upkeep of neighborhoods, such as targeting littering, also will be discussed.
Work in the community that reduces crime is welcomed, said Sgt. Adam Madera of the Detroit Police Department.
“Historically, what we’ve seen that leads to most of our crime is the inability to be able to resolve conflict,” he said. “Obviously anything that brings (that) type of message would be beneficial. We look at it as a positive thing.”