Mary Sheffield, Rep. Lawrence, rappers urge peaceful protests in Detroit

Ariana Taylor
The Detroit News

Detroit — After a weekend of unrest in Detroit, Mary Sheffield is angry. 

Sheffield, the president pro tem of Detroit City Council, hosted a rally Monday to call for justice and an end to police brutality against black and brown people.

Councilwoman Mary Sheffield gives her remarks on black empowerment, peaceful protesting and protecting the city during the rally, Monday, June 1, 2020, at the Detroit Association of Black Organizations.

At the corner of Grand River and Wyoming on the city's west side, Sheffield spoke alongside activists, political leaders and rappers, encouraging people to continue demonstrating, but to do so peacefully and without destroying the city. 

"I stand with every single person who has protested and rallied in frustration and anger against the systemic oppression that blacks have seen in this country," Sheffield said. "It's so important ... that we take this energy, this anger, this frustration and we organize."

Other speakers at the event, held in the parking lot of the Detroit Association of Black Organizations, included Democratic U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence of Southfield and rappers Royce Da 5'9, Trick Trick, Icewear Vezzo, K-Deezy. They encouraged attendees to not only use their voices but to also exercise their right to vote and be counted in the 2020 census. 

"This is our call, this is our generation, this is our time to stand up and say no more in America .. we will not be silenced, we will keep marching," said Lawrence. 

Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence gives her remarks on black empowerment, peaceful protesting and protecting the city during the rally, Monday, June 1, 2020.

The rally quickly filled the small parking lot with some people standing outside the fence in a nearby alley to listen in. People raised their right fists in the air and yelled chants such as, "All power to the people" and "Whose streets? Our streets!" 

Others brought posters and signs that read "Black Lives Matter" and "De-militarize police." 

"The number one thing to have in a successful protest is... being organized," said K-Deezy. "We (are) here for the fight but we got to do it organized ... can't just be out tearing up stuff and burning down stuff." 

From Friday through Sunday, downtown Detroit was the scene of peaceful daytime protests that turned violent by nightfall. Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets, and officials say demonstrators threw objects such as bricks and rocks at officers. 

Police chief James Craig said Monday that 110 arrests were made Sunday night, adding to the 84 from the rest of the weekend. About 70% or more of the arrests involved people from outside the city of Detroit, Craig said. 

"While we're marching, we need to realize that we are representative of Detroit," said Royce Da 5'9. "We got a lot of provocateurs and anarchistic groups coming in with the wrong agenda."

 Trick Trick announced a "no fly zone" policy to be directed toward anyone coming to riot in Detroit from outside the city.

Trick Trick

"You can't cross my lines with your bull," said Trick Trick. "To all those folks coming across Eight Mile, coming across county lines to be disruptive in my city ... I will roll up on you. I am patrolling these streets daily." 

The protests in Detroit are part of a national movement against police brutality in the wake of the Memorial Day death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Floyd, who was black, died after a white officer knelt on his neck for eight minutes. Some cities across the country and in Michigan, including Grand Rapids and Lansing, have seen fires, looting and violence. 

Icewear Vezzo gives his remarks on black empowerment, peaceful protesting and protecting the city during the rally, Monday, June 1, 2020.

"First and foremost, we got to come together. You can't get power without no structure ... we got to be strong and all the real leaders in the city got to really come together," said Icewear Vezzo.