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Arrests made in Shelby Township as marchers rally on Van Dyke, despite warning

Jasmin Barmore
The Detroit News

Shelby Township — Two people were arrested Wednesday evening as protesters gathered near Shelby Township municipal offices to call for the removal of the police chief, and justice for an activist arrested last week and a resident killed by police in 2018 .

Shelby Township police handcuff a protester on Wednesday.

Just as about 40 protesters were preparing to launch the rally at 4 p.m. on Van Dyke in front of township offices, two Shelby Township officers exited an unmarked pickup truck stationed on a driveway near the offices  and warned protesters they would be arrested if they moved onto Van Dyke to protest.  

As protesters entered the street, police moved in to make arrests. One demonstrator who appeared to be arrested was wearing a red bandana as a face covering and carrying a black backpack, and another had a mask around her neck.

Protesters march along Van Dyke in Shelby Township on Wednesday, in part seeking the termination or resignation of Shelby Township police Chief Robert Shelide.

"Two people have been arrested and they’ll be processed," Lt. Beth Walsh said. "I can not give out any information on the charges, but they will be processed and transferred to Macomb County Jail for lodging, and can bonded out there if there is a bond."

Detective Lt. Patrick Barnard said the protesters were arrested for "taking the roadway." 

Some of the demonstrators carried signs that read "Black Lives Matter," "Racism lives here" and "Stand up, fight back."

Shelby Township police officers detain a protester during a protest on Van Dyke in Shelby Township on Wednesday.

Pat Galus held a poster with a picture of Shelby Township police Chief Robert Shelide and the words: "Not fit to serve my Community." Demonstrations have developed since June, after inflammatory posts by Shelide on social media about Black Lives Matter protesters. He was suspended for 30 days by the township board of trustees over the posts.

The Rev. W.J. Rideout III, a local community activist, returned to Shelby Township after being arrested at a July 22 protest in the township for marching in the street. He was charged last week with a misdemeanor for disobeying a lawful order. 

Demonstrators moved to march on the sidewalk after the arrests as Rideout spoke to the group and encouraged protesters to stay peaceful because police, he saui were ready to make arrests.

Protesters continued the push for transparency in Kanwarbir Mahli's death by police. The 25-year-old was gunned down by Shelby Township police officer in November 2018. No charges were filed in the case following a probe by the Macomb County Sheriff's Office. Last week, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said she would re-open the investigation.

“We want justice for Kanwarbir Malhi,” said Sasha Johnson. “But if nothing else, we want full transparency from this department.”

Protesters calling for the firing or resignation of Shelby Township police Chief Robert Shelide, left, and others carrying American and Police Lives Matter flags, right, exchange words as the two groups meet on Van Dyke in Shelby Township on Wednesday.

 About 30 other demonstrators holding black, blue and white flags in support of police organized in front of township offices while anti-police brutality protesters marched at the other end of Van Dyke. The two groups eventually faced off against each other, touting their positions, some using megaphones and others holding up signs. 

Kim Brandon, a Shelby Township resident of 30 years, joined demonstrators carrying the flags.

Rideout, right, talks with a group carrying American and Police Lives Matter flags after the two groups met along Van Dyke in Shelby Township, where both groups were rallying.

“I think in Shelby township we have a great support of our men and women who protect us, and we are just showing our support in a time that (it's) is really needed,” Brandon said.