Detroit, MI — The entire world will soon be talking, split along the primordial racial divide, about the actions of a few white Detroit cops, in what is sure to be a nightmare for race relations in America.
Friday morning, three Detroit beat patrolmen and their sergeant set out on a mission. A mission that would set in motion a firestorm that would consume the community, the state, the country, and the world.
By the time the shooting was over, it was clear that this inner city community would never be the same again. There wouldn’t be any going back. And it was sure that the voices of this particular community would sing loud and be heard around the world.
“I organized this shoot,” Captain Ford of the Detroit Metro PD told Gish Gallop in the aftermath of the shoot at Robert Burns Middle School. “This was my baby. I hatched the idea and got some of my men on board. They came through for me in style. The hardest part was to get the school teachers and administrators on board with the idea. They were tough, but we broke them.”
This Gish Gallop reporter, weary from the commotion and mayhem at the scene asked, “My gawd, Captain, how did we get here?”
Captain Ford smiled, stretched his arms, and proudly stated, “I see these kids every day. Out on the streets. Out in the school yards. They don’t seem to have any direction. What will become of them? Maybe they would be better off dead. And then it hit me”
Captain Ford just sat and smiled at me, tears welling up in his eyes. I broke a long silence when I asked, “Then what hit you?”
“I have a neighbor, Shelondra Pott. We call her Shelly.” The tears began to roll down his cheeks.
“She is 12 years old and has been fighting an aggressive form of AML (Acute Myeloid Leukemia) for 2 years now. It’s too dangerous for her to be outside or in public at this juncture in her treatment, so she isn’t able to attend school or go out and play with her friends. I racked my brain for months trying to find a way to help my neighbor. It didn’t help matters that there were medical bills that couldn’t be paid. Treatments that she might not receive because there were no funds available.” The rough police captain was now sobbing. “On New Year’s Eve, with everyone saying Happy New Year, Happy New Year, a light bulb went off in my brain. ‘It’s a new year,’ I thought to myself. I need a new calendar. EVERYONE needs a new calendar. I kissed my wife at midnight and then I got busy.”
“The next morning, I recruited some of my best officers, mostly those that had good cameras, and we started to piece together a plan. We wanted to build a calendar that represented the kids in our community. A calendar that showed the joy and freedom of being a child. We wanted to kill three birds with one stone. We wound up killing a flock.”
Can you tell us about this dead flock?” I prodded.
“We had an initial goal to help Shelly. You know, pay some bills, let her play vicariously through the pictures, and show her the community cares,” beamed the copper. “But we were rewarded with so much more than just that. We unleashed a spirit. It was like a phoenix arising from the rubble. A spirit of commonality. A spirit of love. A spirit of hope. A spirit of racial equality. An entrepreneurial spirit. Those kids and their families got fired up! My officers did the photo shoot over a four-day period during recess. The department, along with the kids, chose the best photos and put together this great calendar. The demand has been so high, we are already into our 3rd printing,” said the captain with a twinkle.
“What a great story of a community coming together for a great cause. Where can we purchase one of your calendars?” I asked.
The Captain’s eyes got wide for a moment and he said, “drive around the community. You’ll undoubtedly see groups of kids going door to door selling this prized possession. You are also welcome to call or stop by the school or precinct for a copy fresh off the press.”
The calendars are $10 each, and to date, they have raised $47,260. All proceeds go to fund Shelly’s AML treatment and the Burns School activity fund.