Michiganders March: Democrats Talk Legislation & Detroit Demonstrators Protest Shooting

Plus, a billboard goes up warning drivers of racial profiling in Livonia and about 300 people march through Flint for a Black Lives Matter rally
black lives matter michigan
Photo by Emma Klug

Protests continue around the country in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, and Michiganders are still calling for an end to racial injustice, police brutality, and other demands. Here’s what happened across the state from July 6-12:

Detroit protesters and police clash following a shooting 

On July 9, a group of nearly 30 individuals blocked space in front of Belle Isle from 5:20 p.m. to 6:20 p.m. and declared the area a cop-free, autonomous space called the 313 Liberation Zone. The group called for police defunding. Eventually, Detroit police arrived and demanded the coalition leave. [Detroit Free Press] 

Demonstrators gathered in Detroit on July 10 to protest the killing of Hakim Littelton, a 19-year-old who was fatally shot by Detroit police that Friday afternoon. Police Chief James Craig said officers went to San Juan and West McNichols to investigate a July 5 shooting at a block party. During the investigation, Craig said Littelton tried to shoot at officers and they returned the gunfire. Protesters called for justice for Littelton. “I came out here because a man was killed by Detroit police and I feel like his life was taken,” said one protester. “We need the police to be responsible for what they do.” Craig released a video Friday showing video footage of the shooting and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said the officers’ actions were justified. [The Detroit News] 

Eight people were arrested during the protests on Friday evening for suspicion of disorderly conduct. Sgt. Nicole Kirkwood of DPD said demonstrators threw rocks, bricks, and traffic cones at officers. [NBC News

Detroit Will Breathe held a press conference on July 12 to demand the release of longtime activist Meeko Williams, who was arrested Friday evening (Williams was released later Sunday). During the event, several demonstrators said they were beaten or flattened by police during Friday’s protest. Nakia-Renne Wallace, a co-founder of Detroit Will Breathe, said she had been placed in a chokehold. That same day, DPD announced it was launching an investigation into the use of a chokehold on Wallace as the department prohibits chokeholds of any kind. [The Detroit News / Click on Detroit

In other Detroit news… 

Elysia Borowy-Reeder, the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit’s executive director, has been placed on administrative leave following concerns from staff about her leadership. Forty former employees sent a letter to the museum’s board earlier this month accusing Borowy-Reeder of years of racial microaggressions, retaliations, and tokenization of marginalized artists. [ArtNews]

Eminem released a new collaboration with rapper Kid Cudi on July 10 called “The Adventures of Moon Man and Slim Shady.” The song touches on the coronavirus and Black Lives Matter movement. [Detroit Free Press]

According to a tip received by Jalopnik, a digital publication that covers the auto industry, a number of Black employees at Ford Motor Co. are calling on the company to stop manufacturing police vehicles. The company manufactures F-150s, Expeditions, Fusions, and Transits for police departments across the country. [Jalopnik]

A new sign for Livonia 

A new billboard in Redford Township reads “Driving while Black? Racial profiling just ahead. Welcome to Livonia.” Activist group Livonia Citizens Caring About Black Lives raised $1,800 in three days for the billboard. Officials with the Livonia Police Department said its officers do not racially profile. [Metro Times]

West Michiganders show out   

About 300 people marched through Flushing on July 7 as part of a Black Lives Matter protest. The event featured speakers DeWaun Robinson, president of Black Lives Matter Flint; Johnie Franklin III, vice president of Black Lives Matter Flint; and U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, (D). [MLive

That same day, attorney Geoffrey Fieger released video footage of a Black teenager named Cornelius Fredrick being tackled and restrained for throwing a sandwich at a Kalamazoo youth home. Fredrick died two days later. The late-April incident has sparked outrage and the teen’s family is suing the school and the company that owns it for $100 million. [The Detroit News

Protesters gathered on July 8 for the second Black Lives Matter rally in 10 days in Schoolcraft, a village in Kalamazoo County. The event included a march along U.S. Route 131 and speeches. [WWMT

Stephen Jackson, a friend of George Floyd’s and former NBA player, was expected to participate at the Let Your Voice Be Heard march and rally on July 11 in Kalamazoo. The group planned to march through the city’s downtown area. [MLive

Democrats share plans for new legislation  

In a press conference on July 7, Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Detroit and Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts introduced the BREATHE Act, a bill that calls for divesting from police agencies, removing police from schools, closing youth detention centers, and reparations for those who are incarcerated, among many other things. [Metro Times

On July 10, Black Democrats in the state House plan to propose a ban on facial recognition technology, a controversial software that has been proven to misidentify people of color disproportionately. They say they are working with Republicans on the police reform bill. [Metro Times]

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