In pictures: Protestors rally in Ann Arbor against police brutality; use of federal agents

Protestors, speakers rallied for reforms

Protestors held signs as they listened to city leaders, advocates and politicians speak on Saturday, July 25, 2020. (Sarah M. Parlette / WDIV)

ANN ARBOR – Protestors and visitors to Ann Arbor gathered in front of the Federal Building on Saturday to protest against the use of unidentified federal agents and police brutality. 

City leaders, politicians and advocates at the rally spoke to a growing crowd on East Liberty Street about police and social justice reform, freedom of speech, racism, democracy and forward momentum.

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed spoke to the crowd about his own experiences and freedom of speak. (Sarah M. Parlette / WDIV)

Speakers included Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor, Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton, former gubernatorial Michigan gubernatorial candidate Dr. Abdul El-Sayed,  former ACLU legal director Mike Steinberg and Michigan State Representative Yousef Rabhi.

City leaders encouraged reforms on both the local and federal levels while advocates spoke on their experiences and the experiences of others. Steinberg encouraged the crowd to continue protesting until racism is dismantled. El-Sayed relayed a story from when his own freedom of speech was protected and said that current conversations must be followed by actions.

Musician Chris Buhalis lead the crowd in song with his "anti-fascist guitar." (Sarah M. Parlette / WDIV)
Protestors filled the section of East Liberty Street in front of the Federal Building in downtown Ann Arbor on July 25, 2020. (Sarah M. Parlette / WDIV)
Protestors listened to speakers discuss police reform, the use of federal agents, fascism, racism and of upholding their beliefs. (Sarah M. Parlette / WDIV)

“This government action – the detention of protestors by unidentified and uninvited Federal agents - is something I never expected to happen in this country,” said event organizer Jeff Gaynor through email. 

“I grew up reading about the fascist governments in Franco’s Spain, Mussolini’s Italy, and Hitler’s Germany.  While I have participated in protests for over 50 years, this issue compels me to speak up. When I didn’t see other protests in the area about this, I didn’t hesitate to organize one.”

Gaynor, a retired teacher, said that he feels it is necessary for citizens across the United States to speak up. He said his goal for the rally was to provide “a setting for people to voice their support of the best of our American values, and to encourage others to do so.  If this is still a Democracy it depends on all of us to speak up.”

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Protestors marched through downtown Ann Arbor on Saturday, July 25, 2020. (Sarah M. Parlette / WDIV)
Protestors chanted phrases like "Black Lives Matter" and "Whose streets? Our Streets" while marching in downtown Ann Arbor. (Sarah M. Parlette / WDIV)

When speakers were finished addressing the crowd, the protestors marched through street downtown chanting, “This is what democracy looks like” and “Black Lives Matter.”

Protestors knelt in silence at the end of the march for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the same amount of time that a Minneapolis police officer knelt on the neck of George Floyd.

The "Protest to Stop Federal Arrests" was held in front of the Federal Building at 200 E. Liberty St. (Sarah M. Parlette / WDIV)
A "No Gestapo" sign was placed in a garden bed near the Federal Building in downtown Ann Arbor during the protest. Protestors also carried signs and banners with various phrases. (Sarah M. Parlette / WDIV)

About the Author:

Sarah has worked for WDIV since June 2018. She covers community events, good eats and small businesses in Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics from Grand Valley State University.