The last month has seen prolonged, mostly peaceful protests against police brutality and systemic racism. Naturally, the police response has been engaging in the very same brutality that people are protesting. Such was the case during a Sunday night protest in Detroit when a police officer drove an SUV through a crowd of protesters.
The Detroit Free Press reports that a crowd of protesters was making their way back to Patton Park, where the rally started when a group of police vehicles blocked their path. The protesters tried to make their way through the roadblock when Jae Bass, a protester in attendance, said the officers began to move the vehicles. Bass told the Free Press he, along with other protesters, stood in front of the SUV to prevent the police officer from moving and potentially hurting the people marching.
“In response to that, he just floored it. He went super fast. Me and a couple of other organizers that were with me, just went flinging off. We went flying off. He ran over a couple people’s arms, feet. He ran over her phone. I think I was the last person on the car. I was just holding onto the car. I could feel him speeding up and then he did one of these [gestured] and he flinged me off the car.” Bass told the Free Press. Video of the incident shows protesters chanting “No justice, no peace,” as they surround the police vehicle.
Sgt. Nicole Kirkwood, a spokeswoman for the Detroit police, told the Free Press that the back window of the vehicle had been smashed in by the protesters. According to Kirkwood, an investigation has been launched into both the protesters and the officer driving the SUV.
According to the Free Press, the rally was attended by about 300 people and was organized by various activist groups in the area. Leaders from Detroit Will Breathe, ACCESS, Queer Pride Detroit and Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation were in attendance as well as indigenous groups and immigrant rights organizations. The rally was mostly peaceful until the confrontation with the officer in the SUV. One notable moment occurred early on when a group of protesters climbed on a recruitment billboard for the Detroit police department.
From the Free Press:
Two protesters scaled a Spanish language billboard recruiting people to join the Detroit police force. They covered it with a hand-drawn sign reading: “Abolish ICE, Defund Police, No cops in schools.” They secured it with zip ties.
The crowd roared its approval as the sign unfurled and then surrounded two Detroit police officers who exited their vehicle to talk to protesters. The marchers shouted and yelled into a bullhorn: “Whose streets? Our Streets. Whose city? Our city.”
Sadly, this was not the first time a police vehicle has been seen driving into a group of protesters. Last month, as protests initially began following the death of George Floyd, two NYPD police vehicles could be seen driving into a group of protestors.