When protesters came face-to-face with police in Michigan over the weekend, what could have been a violent confrontation instead turned into a display of friendship.
According to the Washington Examiner, Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson marched alongside protesters demonstrating against the killing of George Floyd on Saturday in a viral encounter that made for a contrast with the violent clashes unfolding all across America.
Sheriff shows support for protests
According to The Guardian, 46-year-old George Floyd was killed in police custody last week after now-former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest that was captured on video and soon went viral. Chauvin was charged Friday with third-degree murder and manslaughter, but Floyd’s death had already set off protests, some violent, in cities all across the country.
When a group of protesters approached the sheriff’s office in Flint, Michigan on Saturday, Swanson and his men put their riot gear on at first, uncertain of how the confrontation would play out, as the Washington Examiner noted.
But a grinning Swanson decided, in the end, to do things a little differently.
“We want to be with y’all for real, so I took the helmet off and laid the batons down,” Swanson said with a wide smile in the viral video, according to the Detroit Free Press. “I want to make this a parade, not a protest.”
“You tell us what you need us to do,” the sheriff told the protesters, who responded in chants of: “Walk with us,” the Examiner reported. Watch the clip, as shared by the Examiner, below:
A peaceful scene amid the chaos
Unlike some previous police-involved killings from recent history, the death of Floyd in police custody has been universally condemned by Republicans, Democrats, law enforcement, and social justice activists alike. And although the reaction from demonstrators has been violent in many places, that’s clearly not the case in every instance.
Still, the show of cooperation in Flint made for a contrast with a politically intense climate around the country, as a mixture of protests and riots have spread to cities across America, including the nation’s capital. Law enforcement has struggled to stop violent unrest in many cities, with radical extremists setting police cars on fire, attempting to murder cops, and, in at least one case, setting a police station on fire. In Oakland, California, a black police officer was killed, according to the local ABC 7.
Swanson, for his part, told the protesters that Chauvin does not represent what most police officers in the country are like.
“Don’t think for a second that he represents who these cops are,” Swanson said Saturday, according to the Examiner.
Indeed, violence cannot be tolerated by our government or by those seeking change. This is the kind of response from authorities that everyone likes to see.