Protesters straddle Grosse Pointe Park, Detroit 'to make a change'
Grosse Pointe Park — As an African-American mother in Detroit, Portia Moore cringes hearing reports of black people across the country dying during encounters with police.
But following weeks of protest nationwide following the slaying of George Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis, as well as global calls to end discriminatory law enforcement practices, she sees some hope.
It only grew as Moore joined more than 100 demonstrators who marched Friday at the Grosse Pointe Park-Detroit border to highlight broader issues related to treatment of minorities in the area.
"There are really going to be some changes," Moore said while holding a "Black Lives Matter" sign. "It's really going to be something different."
The event, titled “Marching the Red Line" and touted as a way to “confront this community’s racist past and present," aimed to join others throughout the United States seeking action as well as sweeping societal transformation, coordinators said.
"We can make a difference," Cynthia Douglas, president of the Grosse Pointes-Harper Woods NAACP, told the crowd. "... We have to have these conversations in order to move forward. We have to have these conversations in order to make the change within the justice system. ... We are tired of dying."
The march coincided with ongoing demonstrations in the region and across the countrty spurred by Floyd's death on May 25.
In a widely viewed video of the incident, an officer pressed a knee into the 46-year-old's neck while other police stood by. That officer, Derek Chauvin, who is white, has been charged with murder, and three others also face charges.
Services for Floyd were held this week in Texas, where he spent much of his life. And on Wednesday, his brother challenged Congress to “stop the pain” as lawmakers consider a sweeping law enforcement overhaul.
Americans "have an opportunity right now to make a sincere change" in policing and other policies by speaking up, said Greg Bowens, who helped found the Grosse Pointe/Harper Woods NAACP.
"Police brutality against black people is police brutality against everybody," he said to applause. "So we’ve got to wake up and take a stand in our community."
Participants who congregated on the Detroit side at the intersection of Alter and Kercheval, near the border with Grosse Pointe Park, also highlighted discrimination that affected others in the community, including in education and housing.
Before marching several miles north accompanied by police cars, they unveiled a list of demands for the Grosse Pointe Public School System, law enforcement and government offices designed to embrace equality.
Among the items: diversifying the police force; investing in educating officers on community relations; revising how African-American history is taught in schools; and implementing a stronger anti-racism directive in the district, organizer Bianca Garcia said.
The efforts encouraged another organizer, Kori Webb, a Detroiter who graduated from Grosse Pointe South High School and described how she and other black students believed they were disciplined or addressed differently.
"I feel like if we can help people listen, maybe we can change some attitudes," the 21-year-old said.
She joined the dozens of demonstrators who hoisted signs with messages such as "Silence is Violence" as they streamed north.
A diverse crowd, some on bikes, chanted "Black Lives Matter" and "No justice, no peace" as passing cars honked support.
Among them was Josh Hammond, who lives in the Grosse Pointes and walked with his 6-year-old nephew.
"It's really good for him to see something like this, being part of social change," he said. "To see everyone honking at us, it's kind of electrifying."
Associated Press contributed.