DETROIT – Recent tragedies involving police and blacks have "awakened a pain" in people that crosses all boundaries, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Wednesday at the first of what she says will be a series of forums to improve communication between police and the community.
"We're here to work," she said at a gathering of residents and law enforcement at Wayne State University in Detroit. "We have asked people to come, to focus on the issues and to come with solutions that we can lift up, that we can implement, that we can carry to other jurisdictions so that we can actually begin to make a difference."
The event comes weeks after deadly attacks on police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which followed fatal shootings of black men by officers in Baton Rouge and Minnesota that sparked protests.
Lynch on Tuesday participated in a National Night Out event with Detroit police.
Detroit police Chief James Craig was among those who applauded Lynch's effort to bring all sides together. He lamented the number of officers killed in the line of duty.
"We have got to talk to each other," Craig said. "We've got to work with each other."
The Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit NAACP, called for police to be held accountable as well.
"One of the things that folks need to see is police being arrested and going to jail and doing time," he said. "That's basic. Police officers who do wrong things need to go to jail and need to do time. That's accountability."
Lynch acknowledged in prepared remarks that the task won't be easy and that setbacks will happen.
"Even so, I am here in Detroit because I know that progress is possible — and because I firmly believe that in the face of recent tragedies, we must not give in to cynicism or despair. Rather, we must redouble our efforts build on the progress we've made."