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'I’m so grateful for all of you,' Detroit protest organizer tells crowd

Francis X. Donnelly and Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Detroit — After nine days of protests, demonstrators are weary of many things: racial injustice, police brutality, unheeded concerns that are roiling America's streets.

But they’re not about to stop.

Young protesters, about 500 strong, gathered for the 10th consecutive day Sunday to denounce the treatment of African Americans in the United States.

The turnout was less than earlier rallies, which have drawn as many as 1,000 people, but one organizer said he still was buoyed by the showing.

Protesters march along Third Avenue during the protest against police brutality for the 10th consecutive day in Detroit on June 7, 2020.

“I’m so grateful for all of you,” said Jae Bass to cheers from the crowd near Detroit Police Headquarters. “People like you give me hope.”

Bass, 24, of Detroit said the demonstrations were having a ripple effect around the world as others protested unfair treatment because of race and other reasons.

Still, he said it was frustrating to still be fighting against racial injustice and other problems that should have been addressed decades ago.

“This is honestly ridiculous that we still got to do this,” he said.

Kate Stenvig said she would like to see the demonstrations continue and grow larger.

She also wants other issues to be addressed, such as immigrant rights and women’s fight for equality.

“We are growing bigger every single day,” said Stenvig, 39, of Detroit, who is an organizer for By Any Means Necessary. “This movement has the power to win every fight we’ve been making.”

The Detroit rally wasn’t Caleb Alexander’s first protest of the day. He had just come from one in Warren.

Alexander, 23, of Pontiac said racism was an invasive disease that even affected members of his family.

He said he came to Detroit to show African Americans that he stood with them and would proudly match along with them.

“One protest isn’t enough. One thing is not enough,” he said about the Warren demonstration."

Protests were held across Michigan on Sunday, just as they have been since George Floyd died during his arrest in Minneapolis on May 25. 

Metro Detroit protests and marches reportedly went off peacefully and without incident Sunday on main streets, and outside of churches and city halls in other communities, including Livonia, Oak Park, Rochester, Pontiac, Novi, Birmingham, South Lyon, Clarkston and Warren.

Protesters gathered at Depot Park in the village of Clarkston and in Shain Park, near Birmingham's downtown business district, chanting "Hands up. Don't shoot" and "No justice, no peace."

Reginald Rose II, an Oakland University alumni, and dozens of demonstrators kneel for eight minutes and forty-six seconds during a vigil to honor George Floyd at Oakland University in Rochester on Sunday. The length of time reflects how long Floyd was pinned to the ground with a knee on his neck during his arrest before he died.

About 100 people held a candlelight vigil on the Oakland University campus Sunday night. Besides using the event to reflect on the deaths of George Floyd and others involving police, some said it was an opportunity to “resolve” to make aspects of university education and life more inclusive to minorities.

“The diversity of our department is our greatest strength,” said professor Anthony Guest, head of the theater department. “Something like this (event) is important. We are storytellers, and if we are not telling stories that represent all of humanity, then we are not doing our job.”

Demonstrators walk through campus using the flashlights on their cell phones during a vigil to honor the life of George Floyd at Oakland University in Rochester on Sunday.

Warren police Chief William Dwyer said three of his police chaplains addressed about 200 demonstrators in the Macomb County suburb before an afternoon march from the Civic Center to Chicago Boulevard in the city.

“The chaplains said a prayer before the march,” said Dwyer. “It was peaceful and otherwise uneventful.”

About 2,000 marchers took to Five Mile Road near the Livonia Police Department, some chanting “Black Lives Matter” and many carrying signs “I Can’t Breathe.”.

It, too, was peaceful protest, police said.

On Saturday, the ninth day of marches, participants demonstrated through several Macomb County communities along Hall Road. In  Sterling Heights police Chief Dale Dwojakowski estimated the crowd at between 5,000 and 10,000 people.

fdonnelly@detroitnews.com

(313) 223-4186

Twitter: @prima_donnelly