I was stunned when I heard that gangs duked it out with guns about four or five blocks from my house on the southwest side of Lansing, MI.
The news didn't come from the Lansing Police Department or from Mayor Virg Bernero or from the two Lansing City Council members who were at our neighborhood association meeting. It came from two moms who witnessed part of the violence and were scared for themselves and their families.
When I asked the city officials for more details, they said they couldn't talk about it. They couldn't describe the event and could barely acknowledge that anything happened. However, we knew that a small army of police responded.
At the meeting I sternly told Mayor Benerno that me and my neighbors had a right to know in general terms what happened. He talked about the importance of keeping details under wraps. I said we should have access to the original police report at the very least. I was told citizens don't have a right to that.
I told him in clear, but strong terms that we needed to know what we are facing in our neighborhood. We need transparency in our city government.
There has to be a way to keep citizens informed without compromising a criminal investigation.
The explanation has to be more than cryptic cop terms about an alleged assault happened in your neighborhood.
I didn't leave the meeting feeling like the city officials were serving us in this instance that affects the quality of life for so many of us.
Was I wrong in rebuking the mayor for his silence? Should I apologize?