Chaotic scene as police SUV pushed through crowd after protesters climb on hood

Sarah Rahal and Gregg Krupa
The Detroit News

Detroit — What started as a peaceful demonstration against police brutality in Detroit took a troubling turn late Sunday when a throng of marchers surrounded a police vehicle and some protesters jumped on the SUV as it pushed through the crowd.

The incident was sparked when an officer, who was escorting the protesters, moved his vehicle into the crowd. Some of the marchers tried to block the SUV, and others, whom police referred to as "agitators," jumped onto the hood and roof as the march moved toward West Vernor near Dix, heading toward Clark Park, at about 9:30 p.m. 

Dozens of protesters surrounded the vehicle and a rear back window was "busted out," police said. 

"The officer tried to escape," according to the department.

Protesters were still on the hood as the SUV accelerated. They slid from the vehicle and tumbled onto the ground.

The chaotic scene showed other marchers scrambling; some could be heard screaming and others ran after the SUV. 

"I got hit by a damn cop car today for walking," Brendan Scorpio said in a tweet late Sunday.

Demonstrators began marching at Patton Park at about 4 p.m. Sunday, following weeks of daily protests sparked by the death May 25 of George Floyd after a Minneapolis officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes. 

Stephan Perez, 16, who has spearheaded some of the Detroit walks, was at the march earlier Sunday and called it a "beautiful sight" with so many groups attending marching together, including those for immigrant rights and those calling for changing police department use of force policies.

“This time, we talked a lot, obviously, about the deaths of all these people. But, at the same time, since it was kind of like our home, or our territory, we spoke a little bit more about (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and stuff like that. We kept thinking about the movement that we’re fighting towards.

“... It was a beautiful sight to see.”

Sunday's protest follows weeks of peaceful demonstrations in Metro Detroit against racial inequality and police practices. At one protest during the first week, police used rubber bullets and dispersed tear gas on the crowds after the city enacted a curfew and protests stretched beyond 8 p.m.