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Community activist Rev. W.J. Rideout III arrested at Shelby Township protest

Jasmin Barmore
The Detroit News

Shelby Township — The Rev. W.J. Rideout III was arrested at a protest Wednesday night on a misdemeanor charge of disobeying a lawful order, his lawyer said.

Rideout was in the Shelby Township lockup at about 8 p.m. an outstanding warrant, according to Lt. Jeff Daniel of the Shelby Township Police Department. He declined to provide information about the charge. He has since been released.

Rideout's attorney, Michael Chehab, said Rideout was charged with a misdemeanor for disobeying a lawful order. 

“They wouldn’t tell us what the lawful order was, but it was something that happened allegedly on Monday, when it was a protest," Chehab told The Detroit News. “We think it was retaliatory because as soon as he pulled up, eight cars pulled up to arrest him ... The charge is something they charge when there is nothing else.”

Chehab said Rideout was released from the Macomb County Jail, where he was transferred, Wednesday night. Bail was set at $100. A court hearing has not been set.

Demonstrations have developed in the township since June, after inflammatory posts by police Chief Robert Shelide on social media about Black Lives Matter protesters. He subsequently was suspended for 30 days by the township board of trustees.

Shelide reported back to work on Monday, and his return drew about 60 protesters, including Rideout and others who took a knee in the middle of Van Dyke and blocked traffic. 

A witness at Wednesday's protest said police vehicles headed the wrong way on the street surrounded Rideout's vehicle as he arrived at the 7 p.m. demonstration.

“As soon as the reverend's vehicle pulled up ... maybe about six or seven Shelby police cars, all coming from the wrong way" surrounded his vehicle, said Emily Yalda. “He had one foot out the door and the police all tell him he’s under arrest.”

A video from a protester at the event appears to show Rideout being handcuffed outside of his vehicle and being escorted to the police station. Someone is heard asking why Rideout, a community activist, was being arrested.

“The police told us that it was because of an incident from Monday," Yalda said. “... I said OK, but there was about 100 people standing in the street Monday, why is he the one being targeted, and they told us to back up. We don’t need to explain this to you any further.”

The protesters have called for the termination or resignation of Shelide and Shelby Township Trustee John Vermeulen, who allegedly shared a Facebook post mocking the removal of Aunt Jemima from Quaker Oats products less than two days after he and four other trustees suspended Shelide for his posts. 

Posts attributed to the chief include comments that anti-police brutality protesters should be placed in “body bags” and “real cops” should be allowed to “take care of the barbarians.”

Rideout, who has organized protests in the township, told The Detroit News on Monday that protesters would continue their demonstrations “until he is gone,” referring to Shelide.