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3 days of protests in Michigan: Here’s what happened

Mostly peaceful protests against police brutality

Detroit police form line on day 2 of protests against police brutality on May 30, 2020.
Detroit police form line on day 2 of protests against police brutality on May 30, 2020. (WDIV)

DETROIT – Thousands took to the streets in Michigan over the weekend to protest police brutality following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week.

The protests began after the May 25 death of George Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis after a white police officer who is now charged with murder, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes even after he stopped moving and pleading for air.

Protests were organized in dozens of cities across America, which were mostly peaceful and calling for the end to racial injustice. Of course, some devolved into riots, with looting, vandalism and arson. Many cities, including Detroit, installed curfews to curb crowds after dark.

At least 4,400 people have been arrested over days of protests, according to a tally compiled by The Associated Press. Arrests ranged from stealing and blocking highways to breaking curfew.

Here’s a look back at what happened around Michigan:

Day 1 - Friday, May 29

The first real organized protest was on Friday afternoon, starting at Detroit Police Headquarters. A large group of demonstrators took to the streets for hours to protest Floyd’s killing.

While most of the protest was peaceful, there were some pockets of violence. Detroit police cars were damaged and graffiti was used in some public places.

Detroit police ended up making dozens of arrests after a late-night standoff with a smaller group in Cadillac Square. Police used tear gas to break up crowds, lasting well into the early morning hours. A 21-year-old was shot and killed at the scene of the protest, but police said it was unrelated.

Detroit police reported 60 arrests from the first night of protests. The majority of arrests were people from Metro Detroit suburbs, police said. DPD said the protesters came from cities including Westland, Farmington Hills, Grand Blanc, Hamtramck, West Bloomfield, Warren, Lincoln Park, Clarkston and Dearborn.

Day 2 - Saturday, May 30

Following the chaotic night of protests, city leaders gathered to call for an end to violence and asked people from outside of the city to stay home.

“My message is simple. If you want to disrupt, stay home and disrupt in your own community,” said Detroit Police Chief James Craig.

The second day of organized protest started around 4 p.m. at Detroit Police Headquarters. The group marched through Corktown and into Southwest Detroit. The event went on mostly without incident.

After the organized protest ended, around 7 p.m., a smaller group continued marching through the city, into the Greektown area and then eventually onto I-375.

Later in the evening, police entered into another standoff with a smaller group at Third and Michigan Avenue, where police deployed tear gas and made more arrests.

Police declared an “unlawful assembly," and continued arresting people who were roaming around the Downtown Detroit area. There were some instances of police, some caught on video, of pushing and shoving people, or approaching media members with hostility.

At the end, Detroit police reported 84 total arrests during the second night of protests. Again, police reported a majority of arrests were people from outside the city, including two from out-of-state.

In Grand Rapids, after a peaceful protest ended, a smaller group rioted in the Downtown area, setting fires to multiple vehicles, smashing windows and looting several businesses. It lasted well into early Sunday morning.

In Flint, Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson went viral after joining protesters for their march.

Day 3 - Sunday, May 31

The third day started with another address by city leaders, asking people to stay out of the city.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan announced an 8 p.m. curfew would take effect in the city starting on Sunday night, and Detroit police would threaten to make arrests if groups didn’t leave after curfew takes effect.

In Grand Rapids, many showed up to begin cleaning up after a violent night in the city.

The organized protest in Detroit began at 4 p.m., and marched through the city without incident.

At 8 p.m., curfew took effect in the city and police began warning protesters to leave -- but many refused.

At about 8:45 p.m., police deployed tear gas again, and began making arrests, loading people into empty buses near Detroit Police Headquarters. There were more reports of police making aggressive arrests and targeting clearly identified media members.

On the third night, more than 100 were arrested. 28 were from Detroit. Two were from out of state. The rest were from Metro Detroit suburbs.

In Lansing, Michigan State Police issued an immediate curfew after a group set fire to vehicles and smashed windows in Downtown Lansing.

Other smaller protests took place in Royal Oak, Livonia and Marquette.


More protests are expected this week. Detroit Police Chief James Craig said officers will continue enforcing the city’s curfew.


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