Black Michigan Police Officer Reacts To This Week’s Violence

I wake up black every day,” says Sgt. Dwayne Gill. ”I look like my community. It’s one of the reasons why I serve my community.” 

Jake Neher/WDET

Sgt. Dwayne Gill

The news of the day is the deaths of five Dallas law enforcement officers at the hands of an apparent sniper who took shots at them during a Black Lives Matter protest in that city last night. The protest was convened to push back against the killing of two black men by police officers in the days prior — two killings that fall right into the line of the recorded police killings that we’ve seen for several years now. 

Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson passionately condemned the Dallas shooting during the show. You can hear and read his commentary here. He says:


…The repeated incidents in which we are viewing recordings of police killing black men, women and children call us all to rapt attention, and I believe, to action.

But not this. Not ever. It’s not okay. It’s not any form, in any way, of justice.”

Michigan State Police Sgt. Dwayne Gill, an African American police officer, joins Henderson to talk about his perspective on the week’s violence. He speaks on the program as an individual, not on behalf of Michigan State Police.

He says his heart goes out to the victims in Dallas, their families, and their fellow police officers.

They were warriors. They were doing it right,” he says. ”They were also guardians of the people’s rights.”

Gill says it’s not easy to process police shootings of African Americans as a black man and a cop.

I wake up black every day,” says Gill. ”I look like my community. It’s one of the reasons why I serve my community. And then I love my brothers in blue. I mean, they have to have my back and I have to have theirs as well.”

I’m a black man first, and I feel the anger and the hurt and despair that they feel,” he continues. ”But I also feel, as a police officer, that people like me and people in my position have to step up and make sure that we do better and that we definitely are… the guardians of the community… We must do better.”

Detroit Free Press reporter Niraj Warikoo also speaks with Henderson about the shootings. 

America has been divided already,” he says. ”But we’ll see how this plays out in the coming weeks.”

To hear the full conversation, click on the audio player above.

Image credit: Victoria Pickering/Flickr

This post is a part of Detroit Journalism Cooperative.

The DJC is a partnership of six media outlets focused on telling critical stories of Detroit and creating engagement opportunities on-air, online and in the community. View the partners work at

Support for this project comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Renaissance Journalism’s Michigan Reporting Initiative and the Ford Foundation.



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