FLINT, Mich. – Protests are consuming cities across the country as a number of Americans cry out against police brutality and racism following the killing of black Minneapolis man George Floyd.
Floyd was killed during a police altercation in Minneapolis on May 25. Police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes while he was handcuffed and laying on the ground.
Some protests are evolving into riots in cities like Minneapolis, Atlanta, Los Angeles and more.
Locally, peaceful protests became violent in Grand Rapids on Saturday with reports of multiple car fires, smashed windows and looting. Similarly in Detroit, 84 demonstrators were arrested Saturday night amid the city’s second day of protesting. Detroit police declared Saturday’s protest an “unlawful gathering” and administered tear gas to help disperse the crowd.
In Flint, however, Saturday protests remained peaceful as demonstrators welcomed an unlikely participant: Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson.
Footage shared in a Facebook post shows Swanson addressing a crowd of protestors after removing his helmet and his baton, saying the police are there to support the cause.
“We want to be with y’all for real. I want to make this a parade, not a protest,” Swanson said. “These cops love you. You tell us what you need (us) to do.”
#noviolence #FlintStrong #flintproud #sheriffchrisswansonPosted by Avis Sword on Saturday, May 30, 2020
In a chanted response, the group of protestors asked Swanson to “walk with us” -- which he did.
In social media posts shared by Flint protestors, more police officers can be seen supporting the protest and even linking arms with black demonstrators in solidarity.
Swanson made sure to condemn Chauvin and police brutality while showing support to the Flint demonstrators.
“Don’t think for a second that he (Chauvin) represents who these cops are from all over the county and around the station,” Swanson said. “We go out there to help people, not do that nonsense.”
Chauvin has since been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.