Michigan Sheriff Took Off His Helmet And Marched With Protesters
A Michigan sheriff took off his helmet and joined those protesting police brutality and systemic racism in the wake of George Floyd’s death, pleading with the nation’s officers to ‘lay down their swords’.
America’s response to the killing of George Floyd, a black man who died at the hands of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis, has been seismic. Whether it be New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles or Washington, unrest is visible across the country.
While police escalation has contributed to levels of violence during protests in some areas, a number of law enforcement officials and political figures are opting for solidarity by marching with the crowds; one such officer is Sheriff Christopher R. Swanson of Genesee County.
Check out Swanson talking and marching with protesters here, via 7NEWS:
On Saturday, May 30, Swanson joined protesters without any caveats, asking officers to take off helmets and put down their batons. ‘We want to be with you all for real… I want to make this a parade, not a protest.’ Soon after, the crowds chanted: ‘Walk with us.’
After the march reached its final stop at Flint Township Police Station, Swanson took a moment to address the protesters, acknowledging that the world ‘needs to hear’ what they have to say.
Swanson said, as per WEYI-TV:
Now I want you to hear this. In my entire career, I will never forget this night, because what I saw is what the entire nation saw when they see people that are angry, people that feel like they don’t have a voice, turn in a second when the police listen to them, when the police understand them.
When I asked what I can do – because police condemn what they did in Minneapolis, that’s not who we are – there are good people that love you that need to hear what you have to say. Once we did that, I asked one question: ‘What do we need to do?’ They said: ‘Walk with us.’ Here we are, walking with you.
At a news conference the next day, Quajuan Adams called for reform within America’s police departments, not just as means for justice for Floyd, or Eric Garner, or Jamar Clark, but for everyone. According to The Washington Post, 1,011 people have been fatally shot by police in the US so far this year.
All the police forces need to make sure they are doing things the right way. They need to focus on the training, policies, what is considered being combative, what is not being combative and what forces need to be taken in certain situations.
Swanson added the actions of the officers involved in Floyd’s deaths aren’t indicative of every other police force. ‘We became the beacon of light last night, and so we are calling for a national night of peace. It starts from law enforcement: lay down your swords,’ he said.
The sheriff’s actions are being echoed in other parts of the country, with officers in the likes of Santa Cruz, Kentucky, California, Virginia and Schenectady seen taking a knee and joining protesters. This decision was obvious to some, with Camden County Police Chief Joseph Wysocki telling ABC News: ‘I never thought of anything else, to be honest.’
It’s a community, and we’re part of the community. It’s not us policing the city; it’s us, together. Me marching with the protesters is a form of de-escalation, it’s a partnership with the community. They have to see that I stand with them, and I do.
In Santa Cruz on Saturday, Mayor Justin Cummings and Police Chief Andrew Mills were photographed taking a knee. The following day, Mills published an op-ed outlining his feelings on Floyd’s death and the aftermath, urging that we ‘must purge the profession of those who would dishonor and damage the profession by abusing power’.
The killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis disturbs me to my core. It bothers me as a leader, human, and person of faith. I am hopeful because the newest generations of police officers are changing the dynamics of policing.
Our cops are smarter, more aware of personal bias, and are more willing to police justly than my generation. Our new generation of Santa Cruz cops are more enlightened about race, and this will help to improve how we police.
On Sunday, officers in New York City took a knee alongside protesters in Queens and Times Square, later reading aloud the names of black people who had been killed by the police before taking a moment of silence. ‘We need more of this, to see and hear each other, to work together, to recognize that our differences are our strength,’ NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea tweeted.
Chauvin, 44, is due to appear in court today June 1, charged with the murder of Floyd, 46, last week. In the footage, the white ex-policeman can be seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck for several minutes in the lead up to him losing consciousness.
The three other officers present at the time of Floyd’s death have also been fired from the department, with Hennepin County Prosecutor Mike Freeman saying he anticipates charges against them. However, no further details have been released at the time of writing.
No police isn’t the answer; reform, restructure, reboot the nation’s law enforcement. Purge hate, promote peace.
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Genesee County Sheriff's Office/Facebook
The Washington Post
Andrew Mills – Chief of Police – Santa Cruz