'Let's walk': Sheriff joins Flint protesters in show of solidarity

Ariana Taylor
The Detroit News

During a protest for George Floyd in Flint on Saturday, Genesee County's sheriff decided to walk alongside protesters. 

In a video that has more than 4 million views on Twitter, the sheriff, Christopher Swanson, was encouraged by protesters to walk with them. 

Swanson asked the crowd of people surrounding him to tell officers what they needed to do and protesters began chanting "walk with us." Swanson responded by saying "let's walk."

"We want to be with y'all for real so I took the helmet off and laid the batons down," Swanson said in the video. "I want to make this a parade, not a protest."

Throughout the video, Swanson gave hugs, handshakes, and pats on the back to protesters. When he asked where did they want to walk, someone yelled out "we'll march to Minnesota if we have to." 

"Yesterday, Michigan Sheriff Chris Swanson set an example for law enforcement across the nation. I’m grateful for his leadership, and hope to see many more follow his lead," Gov. Gretchen Whitmer tweeted Sunday.

Swanson has been in the police force for more than two decades. He also served a part in the executive protection of former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden. 

Other videos and pictures show police chiefs in cities across the country, such as Houston, Miami and Santa Cruz, kneeling and walking with protesters. 

Protests have been held in Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Detroit for Floyd, who died while being detained by police on Monday in Minneapolis. 

A Genesee County sheriff's deputy raises his fist in solidarity alongside protesters on Saturday, May 30, 2020, on Miller Road in Flint Township.

Throughout the weekend in Detroit, peaceful protests by day turned into violent riots at night. Police tear-gassed and pepper-sprayed protesters as protesters threw objects at police. 

Saturday's protest ended late at night with 84 arrests and Friday's protest ended with dozens of protesters arrested — many of whom were from the suburbs, according to officials — and a 21-year-old man from Eastpointe was fatally shot by a passerby.