March ends peacefully, past curfew in Detroit

Detroit — Day 7 of marches in Detroit began and ended with speeches and a list of demands protesters said they wanted to discuss with Mayor Mike Duggan and the city’s police chief to usher in change.

By 8:30, protesters had returned to police headquarters, marching past the 8 p.m. curfew, where, for the second night, police did not cite anyone for lingering past 8 p.m. Protesters stood near headquarters and began discussing a list of demands they had for Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and police Chief James Craig in their bid to see an end to institutional racism and police brutality, among other issues.

A rally of about 300 people had kicked off earlier with speeches outside department headquarters about change.

“I want to have a public discussion, where everybody can sit down and talk,” said Stefan Perez, 16, who started protesting this week and has been a leader behind the effort, at the start of the march. 

Perez and other protesters said they didn't want half-solutions to ending police brutality and social injustice.

“I don’t want to make it temporary,” he said. “I want to make it permanent this time.”

Demonstrators launched their march at about 6:15 p.m. first through Midtown and heading toward the New Center area and along Woodward.

Patricia Moore of Detroit wore an “I can’t breathe” mask and shirt. She said she was marching “because Floyd didn’t deserve to die like that.

"I got six sons and they don’t deserve to die like that," Moore said. "Something has got to change. I’m tired of holding my breath and waiting for it to happen to me.”

Moore, 56, has been protesting throughout the week. “I feel like this generation, they aren’t going to quit,” she said. “My generation didn’t press it like this. This generation is something different. I’m glad.”

Demonstrators walk down Woodward Ave. in Detroit, June 4, 2020, to protest the death of George Floyd.

Protests in Detroit started Friday as rage spread across the country following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man killed while in Minneapolis police custody. The officer who held Floyd down with his knee on his neck has been charged with second-degree murder. Three other officers have been charged with aiding and abetting in the death.

The marches ended Wednesday peacefully. Detroit police did not move on protesters, even as the hundreds who gathered marched past the 8 p.m. curfew.

“No matter how you protest … at the end of the day, be safe. … And as long as you actually protested for the correct message,” Perez said. “If you’re protesting just to come and be in front of the camera, if you’re protesting just to come and start a problem in the city, then don’t come.

"But if you’re coming to actually march and fight and stand for something, do that. It don’t matter who you march with …. As long as you’re doing it for the right cause is what matters.” 

Tristan Taylor, a 37-year-old Detroiter and activist, who was among those arrested Tuesday night by Detroit police, told protesters they need to fight to defund the demilitarization of Detroit police.

“No more tanks,” he said. “Tanks are not what you need to keep these streets safe. … Housing is a great way, and jobs are a great way.”

Before the march began near Michigan and Third, Jaye Hill of Harper Woods addressed the crowd, calling for Floyd’s death on Memorial Day to be an opportunity to educate others. 

“Lives matter. Black lives matter, all lives matter,” Hill said. “Sometimes we put too much significance in our color and our pain and don’t recognize that God matters.

“If your agenda, I’m not saying it is, is to tear apart this city like in my Pittsburgh, you’re wrong,” he said.

Signs that said “Mothers Against Racism,” “Justice for George,” “Black Lives Matter” and “Nothing More American than a Protest" were displayed.

Abayomi Azikiwe, 62, of Detroit gave an impassioned speech about institutional racism and how it must be defeated, even calling for the overthrow of the government structure to achieve it.

“The struggle against racism is pivotal,” he told the crowd.

“There’s no justification for killing somebody over a purported counterfeit $20 bill, which is not even the case of whether that was clear or not.”

Protesters came from areas including Detroit, Ypsilanti, Ferndale and Clinton Township.

Detroit Pistons head coach Dwane Casey and his family also marched with the crowd to the Little Caesars Arena. 

Eliza Webb, 26, of Ferndale was drawn to the protest because of the “oppression” black people in America have been under for centuries.

Americans, Webb said, are largely willfully ignorant of the the ravages of slavery through Jim Crow laws in the South to police brutality and what happened to Floyd.

“Our school system teaches slavery like it happened in the past, they teach civil rights like it’s not now,” she said. “Everything from our schools to the media is designed to keep us blind from racial oppression.”