Michiganders March: Protests Continue in Detroit, Shelby Twp., Ludington, and More

Ypslianti Mayor Beth Bashert resigns, Bay City raises funds to launch a Black Lives Matter chapter in the city, and a video showing a Detroit police officer driving through a crowd of protesters goes viral
black lives matter michigan
Photo by Emma Klug

In the past week of Black Lives Matter protests and related news, the men who killed 25-year-old Georgia resident Ahmaud Arbery were indicted for malice and felony murder charges; Senate Democrats blocked a Republican policing reform proposal that they viewed as being an inadequate response to the calls for an end to police brutality; a petition was launched on change.org to call for justice for Brayla Stone, a Black transgender teen who was killed in Little Rock, Arkansas; and a peaceful violin vigil for Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old who was killed by police in 2019, was disrupted when Aurora police officers rushed the crowd.

In the entertainment world, the annual BET Awards featured numerous tributes to Black Lives Matter, actors like Kristen Bell and Jenny Slate stepped down from voicing Black characters in animated sitcoms, and the FBI determined that the noose that was discovered in NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace’s garage at Talladega Superspeedway was not part of a hate crime.

Here’s what happened in Michigan from June 22-29:

Detroit protests go strong  

During a news conference on June 22, Detroit Police Chief James Craig attributed an increase in violent crime in the city to the pandemic and protests. “We predicted early on, this was certainly pre-(George) Floyd, that because of the COVID and the stay-at-home (order), there would be tremendous tension, tremendous stress,” Craig said. While violent crime is up in the city by 7.5 percent, overall crime in Detroit is still down about 8.6 percent. [Detroit Free Press]

A rally for Black Femme Liberation was held on June 28 in Grand Circus Park. The event focused on the Black femmes who are often overlooked in the Black Lives Matter movement and rallied against misogynoir and transmisogyny, which are forms of misogyny directed toward Black women and trans women, respectively. [Hour Detroit]

Detroit Will Breathe, the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS), and the Detroit Hispanic Development Corp. were among the nearly 30 groups to lead a march and rally called Your Fight is My Fight in Southwest Detroit on June 28. About 300 people participated in the event, which protested systemic racism, police brutality and militarization, deportation, and water shut offs and evictions. [Detroit Free Press]

Following the event in the Southwest neighborhood, around 9:30 p.m., a Detroit Police car drove through a crowd of demonstrators headed toward Clark Park. A video of the incident, posted by Twitter user @DJEAzyTwist, shows the car nearly run over one protester and accelerate as another protester is on the hood of the vehicle. The video has since garnered more than 10,000 retweets since it was shared last night. During a press conference today, Chief Craig said the officer driving the vehicle was initially escorting the protest and they took evasive action because they believed shots had been fired. An investigation is open on the officer as well as protesters the department believes attacked the vehicle. [Newsweek / The Detroit News]

Suburbanites march for miles 

Ypsilanti Mayor Beth Bashert resigned last week after facing backlash for racist comments she made during a June 16 City Council meeting. Mayor Pro Tem Lois Richardson will serve in her place until the November election. [MLive]

A protest took place in Shelby Township on March 24 to call for the firing of Police Chief Robert Shelide, who was put on a 30-day leave without pay and is required to complete cultural and sensitivity training after it was discovered that he has shared racially insensitive posts on social media. Shelide is expected to return to work on July 17. A small group that supported the police and President Trump tried to disrupt the event, but both sets of protesters were able to keep demonstrating. [Click On Detroit]

A group of protesters planned to march about 80 miles from Livonia to Lansing this past weekend to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement. The march was expected to end with a demonstration at the Michigan State Capitol building this morning. [Click on Detroit]

A march intended to unite Black men was planned for June 28 in Southfield. The event included a voter registration drive and encouraged participants to complete the 2020 census. [CBS Detroit]

Other Michigan cities continue to organize for justice  

The family of a Black teen who died on May 1 after he was restrained at a mental health facility for youth in Kalamazoo, is suing the center and the company that owns it for $100 million. The 16-year-old, Cornelius Fredrick, suffered a heart attack when he was restrained by staff for throwing a sandwich. [The Detroit News]

A music festival fundraiser took place in Bay City on June 26 to raise money to launch an official Black Lives matter chapter in the city. The event, called Rock the Block for #BLM, featured art, vendors, and keynote speakers. Those interested in creating a Black Lives Matter chapter must obtain a 501c3 nonprofit designation and submit an $800 application. [MLive]

Hundreds gathered at Allendale Community Park in Ottawa County on June 27 to demand the removal of a statue that depicts a Confederate soldier stating back-to-back with a Union soldier. A child who is enslaved is depicted at the base of the statue. The township board is expected to vote to keep the statue at its meeting on June 30. [MLive]

A protest in Ludington drew about 100 people on June 27. Protests have taken place in the city on and off over the past few weeks. [Ludington Daily News]

A local facial recognition case makes national headlines

Robert Williams, a Black man who lives in Farmington Hills, is at the center of the first known wrongful arrest in the U.S. from an incorrect facial recognition match. A Detroit native, Williams spent a day in police custody in January after the controversial software matched his driver’s license photo to a video of someone shoplifting. Detroit police are now seeking to remove Williams’ DNA profile and mug shot from a state database. [Detroit News]

Michigan colleges talk protests and George Floyd  

Michigan State University basketball coach Tom Izzo has had a change of heart when it comes to Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling protest against police brutality. Speaking with media last week, he said, “As I look back on it, how ignorant am I? Because that was a peaceful protest.” [Detroit Free Press]

Wayne State University kicked off its George Floyd in America virtual discussion series last week with a discussion with Melba Boyd, a professor in the school’s department of African-American Studies and an award-winning author. The series is presented by the university’s Office of the Provost, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Law School, Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights, and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. [Hour Detroit]

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