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Demonstrations to protest the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis have gone on in Detroit and cities across the state and nation for the past several days.

Americans, particularly black Americans, are fed up with the killing of unarmed black men by cops and white vigilantes. That point has been made emphatically by the large protests in at least 140 communities, big and small.

By now, there’s not a public official in the land, except perhaps for the one in the White House, who hasn't heard the message.

Americans have not risen up in these numbers and with this intensity since the civil rights and anti-war movements of the 1960s.

But the peaceful protests by those seeking real change have been hijacked by anarchists and others who either glory in violence or are attempting to foment revolution, or both.

Now it’s time for those who want to turn the tragedy of Floyd’s death into real and lasting change to separate themselves from the violent opportunists who are looting stores, setting fires and doing their best to destroy communities where real people will still have to live and do business when this is over.

Instead of standing outside shouting at the houses of power, go inside and push for reforms and policies that will not just prevent police abuse, but also begin closing the racial gaps that exist in everything from education to economic opportunity.

The doors are open. People are listening now in corporate boardrooms, in Congress, in statehouses, in the places places where power resides.

Don't lose this moment by allowing violence to distract from the message. 

Get off the streets and let the police deal with the violent lawbreakers, many of them who, as Detroit Police Chief James Craig and Mayor Mike Duggan have noted, do not live in the community they're trying to destroy.

President Donald Trump chided governors Monday for not being tough enough on the looters and arsonists. That’s typically tone deaf.

Yes, cops should restore order. But they face an almost impossible situation in separating those who want to peacefully express righteous anger from those who want to riot. 

Chiefs, mayors and governors are well aware of the horrible optics of using excessive force to quell demonstrations against police brutality. 

And yet they have to protect lives and property.

Don’t complicate that difficult job by being a shield for the dark element that is exploiting the protests.

The time has come to stop marching and start engaging to make this a moment of real change for America.

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