More Than 80 Arrests Made On Second Night of Protests in Detroit; Widespread Damage Across Downtown Grand Rapids

In Grand Rapids, protesters lit police cars on fire and smashed store windows

WWJ News
May 31, 2020 - 11:17 am
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(WWJ) Chaos broke out in Detroit and Grand Rapids last night; after peaceful protests against racial injustice and police brutality devolved into violence. 

Detroit Police Chief James Craig said during a press conference about 250 people marched down I-375 toward I-75 to demand justice for George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man who died after a white police officer held his knee on his neck for several minutes in Minneapolis. 

Craig said 84 people were arrested after a group of people began throwing rocks and M-80 grenades at officers in the area of Detroit Police Headquarters. 21 were from the city of Detroit, 2 were from out of state (Ohio, Tennessee); the rest were from suburban communities in middle and southeastern Michigan. 

He told reporters that some of them had “ice chests full of bricks” when they arrived at Police Headquarters.

“It became a violent situation at that point,” Craig said.

Tear gas was deployed for the second night in a row, according to Craig.

Warning: This video may contain explicit language and graphic content

“If they’re (the protesters) just going to stand there, we’re patient,” Craig said. “But when you start attacking police officers, that’s when we intervene. When you’re talking about projectiles from small sized bricks, fireworks…that certainly could cause significant injury to an officer, so we had no other choice.”

At least one police car was damaged, according to Craig. A third night of protests is planned for Sunday.

Police Chief James Craig said his team will be present should it get out of hand.

“Again, we support the protests,” Craig told reporters. “We do not support law breakers.”

Meantime, it was a night of destruction in Western Michigan.

The people of Grand Rapids saw their night skies light up with flames as protesters lit muliple police cars on fire.  

Residents woke up to city streets full of broken glass in the downtown area.

FOX 17 reporter Sarah Grimmer posted a video on Facebook Sunday morning of piles of shattered glass at the base of destroyed store fronts: “Nearly every business on Monroe Center in downtown Grand Rapids has been smashed into after Saturday nights protests turned to riots.”

Grand Rapids mayor, Rosalynn Bliss, posted a statement on Twitter.

“The violence, chaos and destruction that have replaced peaceful protests are unacceptable. This does not represent who we are or Grand Rapids. We are a compassionate community that comes together to have tough conversations and solve tough issues.”

That compassion Bliss spoke of was demonstrated Sunday morning as hundreds of Grand Rapids residents, young and old, turned out to clean up the damage.

WOOD-TV reporter, Dana Whyte, said the volunteers also took time to write a message of support, love and equality.