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Michigan Police Used Images of Black Males Holding Guns as Target Practice

At this point, racism is getting heavier and heavier.

Thanks to a group of Boy Scouts, Farmington Hills Police Department is now under investigation after the scouts discovered images of Black males with guns were used as targets for shooting practice.

The troops were touring the facility when they spotted the targets, which included images of some of the Black males wearing hoodies and backward caps. Some of the “targets” were pierced with bullet holes, Vice reported.

In one photo from the group’s tour, six white Scouts are captured looking at the targets—which was of a Black man who has a menacing look on his face and pointing a gun. What makes it even sadder, is a Black Boy Scout is also in the picture but standing behind the group of six white troops.

Thanks to an unidentified person who attended the tour, the disturbing incident was reported.

Group of Boy Scouts Discovered Michigan Police Used Images of Black Males Holding Guns as Target Practice

“When those children were exposed to those images, to me it was the potential detrimental effects on how they view Black men and Black people that was indescribable,” attorney Dionne Webster-Cox, who represents the person, told VICE News. “It’s literally profiling for the Black man. You’ve got young police officers and this is what they’re being trained on?”

The targets have since been removed and are now under a legal review, Mayor Vicki Barnett confirmed at a public city council meeting.

During the meeting, Farmington Police Chief Jeff King apologized. “I’ll take this one on the chin,” King said. “I apologize to each and every person in this room, this community, my department, my city council, my city manager. I can’t overlook this.”

He also disclosed that the images were purchased but didn’t say where from, or if they are of actual people.

He did go on to say that the use of the images of Black men was taken out of context. 

“A diverse group of targets were on display the day of the tour—not just targets featuring Black people,” King said. “Unfortunately, this was not accurately depicted in the photographs, as the photographs only depict a small area of the department’s firing range and a select number of the targets that were presented and discussed during the group tour.”

Apparently, the department uses images of a dozen different people, 10 of whom are white and two Black, which falls in line with Michigan’s Commission on Law Enforcement Standards, and the city’s demographics.

Farmington Hills is 18.5 percent Black and 62 percent white, a 2020 Census report reported.

Assistant Chief Jon Piggott told VICE News that officers typically train using silhouettes and bull’s eyes to measure for accuracy, and only use images of people when they start training officers on threat assessment.

While the default targets are all holding guns, they can also be captured holding a beer can, a cellphone, or nothing at all.

“Because now, it’s not a question of whether or not the officer can hit the target,” Piggot said. “The question now is… whether or not the thing that they’re looking at is a danger to them or not.”

For Webster-Cox the explanation doesn’t change the fact that Black men were primarily presented as targets when the kids visited the shooting gallery.

“This is not acceptable. You don’t want your children to just start off hating,” she said.

This wasn’t the first time this department has been under scrutiny over the use of targets it has used for shooting practice.

Last July, the Michigan American Civil Liberties Union filed a freedom of information request that asked the department to disclose images of “any gun range targets used by the police department from January 2020,” according to Webster-Cox.

The organization received images of other, non-Black targets, however, those images were not on display at the time of the Boys Scouts tour.


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