Michiganders March: Detroit Tigers Support Black Lives Matter & Breonna Taylor’s Family Speaks

Plus, demonstrators protest gentrification, Ann Arbor raises a Black Lives Matter flag outside its city hall, and a police reform advocacy group reviews the state
Black Lives Matter
Photo: IStock

It’s now been just over two months since George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police on Memorial Day, and protests in support of Black Lives Matter, symbols of solidarity, and calls for change continue to pop up across the country.

Here’s what’s happened in Michigan in the past week:

Detroiters take to the streets  

On July 20, some employees walked off their jobs and into the streets of Detroit to demand that their workplaces show support for Black lives. Marches took place across the country as nursing home, fast food, and sanitation workers urge corporations to confront systemic racism. [Fox 2 Detroit

Last week, Detroit police officer Daniel Debono was charged with three counts of felonious assault for shooting three photojournalists with rubber pellets during a May protest. Prosecutor Kym Worthy said the shooting was unprovoked and the journalists, who were all injured by the pellets, weren’t a threat to anyone. [CNN]

Federal agents will come to Detroit, Cleveland, and Milwaukee in the next few weeks as part of a larger plan to help cities fight violent crime. While federal officers have pushed back against protesters in Portland by deploying large amounts of tear gas and throwing Black Lives Matter demonstrators into unmarked vehicles, during a press conference on July 23, Detroit Police Chief Craig James said the plan for agents to come to the city was coordinated months ago and is not associated with ongoing protests. [Detroit Free Press]

As a sign of unity, the Detroit Tigers’ players and coaches took a knee before their game against the Cincinnati Reds. The Tigers also wore patches on their right sleeves that said, “Black Lives Matter” and “United For Change.” [Detroit Free Press

Jelani Curtis, a Detroit native who now lives in Los Angeles, has created a platform to seek justice for Breonna Taylor, a Grand Rapids native who was killed by Louisville police officers on March 13. The For Breonna website provides phone numbers and email addresses to contact Kentucky officials as well as the option to set up calendar reminders to make calls. An Instagram account with more than 19,000 followers also shares contact information, educational resources, and event information. [Detroit Free Press

Protesters marched through Detroit neighborhoods on July 25 to highlight gentrification in the city and police brutality. The march lasted two and a half hours, and residents showed support for the march by chanting, dancing, and cheery as demonstrators passed their homes. [The Detroit News

Suburbanites call for change 

Ann Arbor is now displaying a Black Lives Matter flag in front of its city hall. “We felt it was important to fly the Black Lives Matter flag to make plain to all, frankly, that Black lives do matter, that systemic racism in all of its forms is abhorrent and contrary to our community’s values,” said Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor. [MLive

About 60 demonstrators gathered near Van Dyke Road in Shelby Township on July 20 to call for the removal of the city’s police chief, Robert Shelide, who was expected to return to work that day after being suspended for racially insensitive remarks he shared on social media. [The Detroit News

Last week, Oakland County Judge Mary Ellen Brennan said she will not release “Grace,” a Black student at Groves High School who garnered national attention after ProPublica reported she was detained in a juvenile facility for not completing schoolwork. Brennan says the teen was not placed in the facility because she didn’t do her homework but because she was a threat to her mother. The case has led to protests over how Black children are treated in the criminal justice system. [Time]

West Michiganders protest over the weekend

A protest against police brutality took place in downtown Grand Rapids on July 25. The event was organized by the groups Family Over Everything, Black Lives Matter Grand Rapids, and Minorities Movement 2020. Tawanna Gordon and Erica Eaves, both cousins of Breonna Taylor, took to the stage to address the crowd. [MLive

Demonstrators gathered at Allendale Community Park in Allendale Township to call for the removal of a Confederate soldier statue. Counter-protesters also gathered at the site to defend the controversial monument. The township board voted unanimously on June 30 to keep the statue, but protesters have continued to call for it to be taken down. [MLive

Police reform advocacy group reviews Michigan police departments  

According to the police reform advocacy group behind the 8 Can’t Wait campaign, use-of-force policies in Michigan police departments allow for deadly force in nearly all circumstances. On average, only two of the eight standards listed in the campaign — including banning chokeholds and requiring de-escalation — were met by the 12 police agencies reviewed. [MLive]