FLINT, MI A group of north side pastors and residents have a list of demands for four Genesee County businesses as a result of allegations that Flint Township police officers and a Genesee County Sheriff's deputy used excessive force on a Black man he had been slapped earlier this month.
At a town hall meeting at Flint's north side, there were calls for changes in Flint Township police, the Genesee County Sheriff's Office, Hurley Medical Center, and the Walmart store.
We always have advocation. If we don't like something in our community, we can always use our voice to stand up, said the Pastor of the Rising Star Baptist Missionary Church. We must use our mouths, use the tool of unity, and come together and combat what we believe must be changed in our community. And then, that's what we are here about.
In a video that has since been shared multiple times, Powell was joined by Jalil X. Carter of the Nation of Islam, about a week after Fleming was seen being kicked in the head by a Genesee County Sheriff's deputy. In the video, a security officer saw him punching in the head in the entrance to a Hurley Medical Center.
Fleming, 30, is black and has accused Flint Township police of using excessive force on him after they pulled him off a Mass Transportation Authority bus and handcuffed him following him being wrongfully accused of retail fraud at the Corunna Road Walmart on April 2.
Fleming has not been charged with a crime after three days in the Genesee County jail after the incident at Hurley.
Fleming paid homage to the audience at the symposium for sharing the video of him at the hospital, and later stated that he is still in pain due to the amount of force used in the two incidents.
The town hall was transformed into a conversation between the audience and the pastors, but it focused on what change they wanted to see seen implemented by the two police departments involved in Fleming's allegations, as well as the hospital and store.
Police officers from the Flint Township Police Department and the Genesee County Sheriff's Office have to undergo a tactical communication program they said would aid officers in communicating better with and work for people of color across the county.
(The training) allows them to enter Flint's neighborhoods, where Blacks and Latinos are nonwhite, and whom white officers would have to engage with, and demonstrate some understanding of the type of people they're engaging in. So, you must understand something about us to be able to address us.
Read more about it here.
Carter said the program encompasses five stages: communication, de-escalation training, emotional survival, customer service policing, and non-violent intervention.
Police officers from the Flint Police Department participated in the training in November 2020, according to Carter, and the department is planning to have additional participants as soon.
According to Carter and Powell, a meeting with Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson is scheduled for next week. Kevin Salter, the group's request for a meeting has not been responded.
Police in Flint Township have not immediately responded to a message asking if they are considering the training.
Carter said that the group wants to know how the department handles the investigation into the amount of force used by the paramedic deputy in the video punching Fleming in the head.
On Wednesday, Swanson told the Journal that the investigation is still going.
Carter said that the organization must do everything they can to ensure that people in this community are aware of the dangers of making a change.
Carter demanded more diversity with Hurley Medical Center. Holding a printed-off piece of paper with an overview of the hospital's command, Carter claimed that the hospital's executive team was composed of all white people.
"We want to know how do their hiring decisions for senior leadership, and we want diversity in the senior leadership," Carter said. "You can't be all white and assist Black, white, brown, yellow, red people, you can't do it. It's impossible because you don't know anything about us at all.
Carter said, I don't care if you've been around us for 50 years. You still don't know anything about us, because you're not in our skin.
Carter and Powell have asked for an investigation into all Hurley employees who dealt with Fleming during his time at the hospital.
A meeting with hospital executives was also requested to discuss whether employees are required to train for working with diverse individuals as well as dealing with mental health issues.
"So, someone in triage should have learned with adequate training that this brother was in a mental health crisis. "Why was he not treated properly?" Powell said.
Officials at Hurley Medical Center received no response to an email seeking information.
A group of pastors and Darius Hollins of Flint's Black Lives Matter have called for a boycott of the Corunna Road Walmart, alleging that the store should be held accountable for providing information to the Flint Township government that had handcuffed flaws.
Swanson admitted after a meeting with the pastors and Flint Township cops on April 6 that the dispatch was given inaccurate information and confirmed that Fleming had indeed not stolen items from the store.
"I just felt like before we had to stand up for each other," Hollins said. "So, we are planning a whole spectrum of movement to affect Walmart's daily income."
Despite his presence in Flint Township, Powell discussed how the specific Walmart store can be funded in part by Flint residents from the north.
"The north side is a food desert," he said. "We are consumers, and we are well consumers at that. And, therefore, they must be accountable."
The group is also requesting that Walmart officials discuss their shoplifting policies and determine if employees should take part in any training program.
Representatives with Walmart did not respond to requests for comment.
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