Opinion: From chaos to conversation
How one Chief of Police has changed his community in a matter of months
By Erica Morse
Publisher, Victims News Online
Published 1:00 p.m., June 1, 2020
(VNO) — This time last year, the chants of ‘F the police’ were rampant in the small tourist town of Michigan City, Indiana.
Today, that same community is now united in strength, working together for a common purpose, to find answers to the volatile situation taking place throughout the country – and most importantly – in their own backyard.
That change in attitude falls squarely upon one individual: Michigan City Police Department’s new Chief, Dion Campbell.
For as long as I can remember, black men and women in Michigan City have been targeted by the police. In the 90’s, the PD’s narcotics unit was putting drugs and weapons back on the streets, in an effort to make illegal money on the side and arrest persons of color.
Black children were being shot in the streets, and white cops were not being held accountable.
The town, known as a southeast suburb of Chicago, has been classified as a High-density crime and drug area. It has been plagued with heroin and crime for over a decade, as officials claimed to be working to make the streets safer.
Feedback from the community, however, indicated the opposite.
For years, our team has been vocal about the injustices taking place in Michigan City, because its residents came to us for help: accusations involved unsolved disappearances and homicides not being properly handled or investigated, cold cases lying dormant, the mocking of loved ones who attempt to seek justice, and an obvious atmosphere of public hatred and mistrust for those who wore the uniform.
So when the former Chief of Police suddenly resigned in October 2019 over tensions with the then-Mayor, the community saw a chance to start over, after a beloved City native was promoted to top brass.
Last night, the same individuals who swore they would never again trust a man in uniform gathered at a peaceful protest led by their new Chief.
“I love my city”, Dion Campbell told protesters last night as he led them through the streets of Michigan City to show support for their grievances. “Wrong is wrong, and right is right”.
Maybe it’s because he’s well-known to the community. ‘Mr. Campbell’ was a substitute teacher for the school system. He has been the department’s school resource officer for years. Or maybe, it’s because of his work within the community that has garnered many awards, or his tall stature that causes everyone to take notice when he enters a room.
Or maybe, it’s because Chief Campbell treats a white business owner the same as he does a black man with 30 convictions on his record.
Chief Dion Campbell is the change Michigan City has been begging for – not for days, weeks, or months – but for decades.
This is the moment the community has been demanding. Last night, their newest leader backed up his words with action, and that has many honoring him today.
We join them in saluting him, and look forward to what comes next. Thank you, Chief Campbell.
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