Detroit marchers vow to protest at Rocket Mortgage golf event

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Detroit — After weeks of protests that have moved through downtown Detroit and neighborhoods, most recently on the southwest side, to denounce police brutality, marchers have turned their attention on a professional event, the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

Protesters are aiming to draw attention to their cause at the tournament that begins Thursday, minus the fans and which features a 156-player field.

"When we say no justice no peace, we actually mean that," said Tristan Taylor of Detroit Will Breathe, one of the leading organizers of the marches, at Tuesday's protest in Detroit.

"And so when we say no business as usual, you can’t enjoy golf, either, without listening to our voices."

Days after protesters said a police car struck them at an anti-police brutality march, dozens gathered Tuesday at a city precinct building to demand charges against the officer who drove a police SUV through a crowd of demonstrations late Sunday, as well as calling for Detroit police Chief James Craig and Mayor Mike Duggan to resign or be removed.

They also vowed to press their demands during the start of the golf event at the Detroit Golf Club on Hamilton Road.

Protesters march against police brutality in Detroit on June 30, 2020.

“We want justice,” said Taylor, who has joined many of the marches in Detroit after the death on May 25 of George Floyd after a Minneapolis officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

“What happened to us Sunday was an assault on our lives.”

He and nearly 100 others gathered at the Detroit Police Department’s Fourth Precinct building on Fort Street before marching in summer-like warmth.

Some carried handmade signs with messages such as “The power is in the people.”

The marches have lasted for more than a month, and participants urged each other to show up daily.

"We will keep marching until we win," said Nicole Conway, a member of By Any Means Necessary, or BAMN.

On Sunday, a police SUV accompanying the marchers drove through a crowd of protesters as police tried to steer them on a different route hours into a march in southwest Detroit. Craig said the back window of the SUV had been busted out and the officers were worried "they were being fired upon" and thought protesters were trying to open the doors of the SUV.

Craig said the officers had to take "evasive action" and called some of the protesters  "agitators" who initiated the violence. He said an investigation was opened on the officer as well as those who appeared to attack the SUV. 

Protesters march against police brutality in Detroit on June 30, 2020.

Video shows the SUV driving alongside the marchers and moving into the crowd Sunday night. Marchers crowded around the vehicle, and, as the driver accelerated, the movement knocked several people to the ground; some marchers jumped on the hood as the officer continued to drive through the throng of demonstrators.

During their protest Tuesday, demonstrators disputed Craig's characterization of the incident and said they were targeted.

Sammie Lewis, who is active with Detroit Will Breathe, said she sprained an ankle during the police vehicle incident Sunday.

The growing numbers of protesters, she said, showed momentum hadn't slowed and could result in change.

"I'm not going to stop coming until I see that," Lewis said.