Amid protests, Gilchrist says relief won't 'come from smashing windows'
Lansing — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist responded Sunday to national outrage over the death of George Floyd, vowing reforms and encouraging protesters to be home for Sunday dinner.
Whitmer and Gilchrist, issued a six-minute video on social media as protests continued nationally after Floyd's death in police custody in Minnesota on May 25. A demonstration in Lansing was ongoing Sunday afternoon while another was planned for Detroit on Sunday evening.
Recent protests in Detroit and Grand Rapids against police violence have seen looting and arrests.
"Relief will not come from smashing windows," Gilchrist said in the video. "Relief won't come from tweets alone. Relief won't come from dropping our guard in this pandemic as tempting as it is."
Gilchrist of Detroit is the first African American to serve as lieutenant governor of Michigan.
Whitmer said people couldn't allow the situation to "break us spiritually."
"We must vote. The tone, the focus, the equity depends on who we put in positions of power in our county sheriff's offices, in our legislative offices, in federal offices," Whitmer said. "As United States citizens, we have a right and responsibility to learn these lessons and take that knowledge to the voting booth, or better yet to our kitchen tables as we vote safely from home in August and November."
The governor also voiced frustration about protesters who she said are "abusing this pain to further their own agenda." She described them as individuals "who came into communities of color under the guise of support, but who instigated violence and vandalism."
Whitmer has specifically criticized other recent protests against her stay-at-home orders for potentially spreading COVID-19.
Gilchrist said the administration will "pursue action and reforms that will address the immediate pain and systemic injustice." And he encouraged demonstrators to designate a route for their protests and to be home for Sunday dinner.
After two days of demonstrations in Detroit, on Sunday, Mayor Mike Duggan instituted a curfew in Michigan's largest city from 8 p.m. Sunday to 5 a.m. Monday.