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7 arrested in Shelby Twp. march as police, protesters clash

Jasmin Barmore
The Detroit News

Shelby Township — A Detroit Will Breathe protest calling for the ouster of Shelby Township Police Chief Robert Shelide on Saturday ended with seven people being arrested after protesters and police clashed, according to police. 

About 100 Black Lives Matter protesters marched in the streets near Van Dyke and 23 Mile before the demonstration erupted with conflict.

In a Facebook post, Detroit Will Breathe said police "kneeled on necks... tackled several, and tried to pull others out."

"But we resisted and protected as many of each other as we could," the post said. "We're waiting at the Shelby Twp. jail for our friends now."

According to police, officers met with protest organizers at about 1:30 p.m. Saturday and advised them to stay on the sidewalk and not to block or enter the roadway. At about 4 p.m., the group left the parking lot at 23 Mile and Van Dyke and entered eastbound 23 Mile, blocking traffic, police said. 

After numerous warnings to return to the sidewalk, the group of protesters refused. That is when the arrests were made and several vehicles were issued citations for impeding traffic, police said. 

Videos posted to social media by Detroit Will Breathe show protesters marching through residential neighborhoods chanting: "If we don't get no justice, ya'll don't get no peace."

Police can be seen in the videos holding shields on the opposite side of the street from the protesters.

"They were coming at us with riot gear, and they would form lines and all pushed at the same time with the shields," said Mark Cowan, 31, of Shelby Township, who was at the scene. "They pushed us down, and a few people got arrested.

"I did see one girl with three cops on top of her. We did take the streets for a little bit, but all they had to tell us was to get out the street." 

Cowan accused authorities of strip-searching a woman in front of everyone.

"They stripped her down to her bra and underwear right in the middle of the street in front of everyone," he said.

Police denied strip-searching the woman, saying she took her own clothes off. 

"While on scene, one of the arrestees escaped her flex cuffs in the rear of a patrol car and stripped her clothes off," Shelby Township police said in a statement. "It was reported on social media that officers stripped search her and that was completely false."

Police said that incident was captured on the patrol car's video system and will be released to the public. 

Editor's note: This video contains explicit language.

Demonstrations in Shelby Township have been ongoing since June after the township's police chief was suspended for making inflammatory comments about Black Lives Matter protesters under an alias on social media.

He reported back to work in July after apologizing for the comments. 

An officer on duty Saturday night at the township police department said Saturday's incident is under investigation and no additional information would be released at this time.