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Local men talk about relationship between police and black community

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The recent shootings in Minnesota, Louisiana, and now Dallas are spurring tough conversations here in Chattanooga about the relationship between the black community and police.

Three local men say these problems aren't only in other parts of the country, but also here in Chattanooga. 

It's not an easy conversation to have, but one that young black men say is necessary to improve how their community and police interact.

It has been a difficult week for a Chattanooga family watching their biggest fear play out in national news. “It makes me sick to my stomach. Seeing it, hearing it, it’s not cool,” said Collin Fears.

“How do I explain this to my son? I cried. I cried over that one,” said Anthony Fears.

Even before this week's violence, Anthony Fears has had conversations with his son about respecting law enforcement. “You have to respect their authority. Even if they're abusing that authority, there is no do over as we saw in Minnesota.”

Demetrius Smith has had those talks with his dad too. The black community's distrust of police is part of life for these young men. “I'm not saying every cop is bad, sometimes it is really hard to tell who is on your side or just racist,” said Demetrius Smith.

“You don't know them, they don't know you. You don't know what is going to happen. It makes you nervous sometimes,” said Collin Fears.

They fear being pulled over for no reason, and coming face to face with what has played out in Minnesota and Louisiana.  “Hard to show this is our reality. You have to grow up in this, be ready,” said Smith.

“Right now I think it is unfortunate that we have some making bad judgments that’s causing such disunity in the community,” said Anthony Fears.

Anthony Fears remembers the Civil Rights Movement.  He said not much has changed. “You got to be kidding me. Racism is something else in this country. Yes it is changing, but have we arrived? That's the question.”

He hopes his son won't be forced to explain what he has had to. He hopes future grandchildren will live in a world of justice, equality and understanding. “People are all the same. Why should it be any different? We are all God's creatures, should be treated the same,” said Collin Fears.

“We are all humans, all equal regardless of the color of my skin. We're all the same,” said Demetrius Smith.

Olivet Baptist Church is asking the public to come together on Sunday at 1:00. The church will spend the day reflecting and praying for those who lost their loved ones.  The church is located on MLK Boulevard in Downtown Chattanooga.

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