JACKSON, Mich. — Protests in Jackson are staying peaceful Monday as dozens of people are gathered near MLK and High Street.
Two protests took place in the city Monday.
More the 50 people gathered this afternoon at the first protest held at the police station. Protesters then marched to the sheriff's office and were joined by Jackson Mayor Derek Dobies, who criticized Sherrif Steve Rand for a comment he allegedly made.
"The implicit bias, the systematic racism that exists right here in Jackson, I can't think of a better example than to have a sheriff that jokes about stepping on the back of black people's necks in front of other officers in this very building behind us here," said Mayor Dobies.
Some people when into the street to block off traffic from the police station.
One man who was out protesting told FOX 47 his son experienced police brutality when he was in college at Ohio State.
"His sophomore year, two officers approached him. They had a 10-3 code, officer shot and down, and 26 came and they beat my child and he was in the trauma unit for a number of days. My son lived but the pain does also," said James Hines.
Jackson Police Chief Elmer Hitt was also at the protest, speaking to demonstrators about strengthening their relationship with police. Chief Hitt said he didn't have officers present at the Jackson Police Station because he wanted to allow them to protest without police supervision.
"That was intentionally done by myself. Part of that was to allow protesters to protest without the oversight of the police and if protests are peaceful and done properly, we don't have a huge role in keeping the peace of thee types of events," Hitt said.
Before the protests began, the City of Jackson said city officials talked with organizers about how the protests can be held safely, encouraging residents to safely demonstrate.
The city said it acknowledges the protests are reactions to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the "broader issue of racial injustice."
"I feel the incident in Minneapolis was an injustice and public protests are certainly in order," said Police Chief Elmer Hitt. "We just ask protesters to demonstrate in a peaceful manner while treating all with respect and dignity."
Mayor Dobies released a full statement in regards to the protest:
Our nation is in pain over the death of George Floyd, and the murder of so many other unarmed black men to police brutality.
Like many others, I am heartbroken, angered, frustrated, saddened and so many other emotions. Not only over the unjust stream of correlating death and abuse, but by the ignorant and often overtly bigoted responses to these protests by supposed allies and elected leaders.
I want to be clear: these protests are a reaction to the inherent bias and systemic racism that has persisted to intentionally neglect, suppress, and persecute populations of Americans for generations.
Maybe now more people will realize why Colin Kaepernick took a knee on the field: to protest the racially bias environment that allows both Sheriff Rand to stay in office while joking about "stepping on [black peoples] necks like we used to" in front of deputies in his office, and Derek Chauvin to actually put his knee on the back of black man's neck and murder him - all while three other officers watched it unfold, without intervening.
That's why I support the right of my brothers and sisters to peacefully protest.
If this makes you uncomfortable, good. This should be uncomfortable. But until we are able to openly talk about racial injustice and call a spade a spade, nothing will change. The protests are a conversation that demands action. It is incumbent on us to participate at this moment, and not be spectators.
That being said, a number of residents and businesses have contacted me in the last 24 hours about concerns about upcoming protests scheduled in Jackson, and riots that have happened in other communities. I've contacted the organizers of the protest today and they informed me the protests will be peaceful.
I believe in encouraging peaceful protests, and to listen earnestly to their message. These protests don't give voice to the voiceless. Everyone has a voice. These protests are trying to make people listen to those voices that have long been ignored, whitewashed, and silenced.
Those who chose to destroy property and cultivate violence ultimately distract from those voices. I am optimistic that we can avoid riots and destruction other cities have witnessed so that more people can listen to the critical message of these protests - and change themselves, the laws, and the system.
I believe Jackson's strength rests in our diversity. We are an inclusive, tolerant community that is stronger together. We can show the rest of the state what meaningful dialogue and constructive action can look like.
Always we must meet hate with love; violence with justice.
Be Powerful. Be Persistent.
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