Sheriff joins George Floyd protest in Flint: ‘We want to be with y’all’

In a gesture of peace, Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson took his helmet off and put his baton on the ground.

Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson (Credit: screenshot)

Protestors in Flint, Michigan were greeted with riot gear and guns but rather than the situation escalating, it ended with the sheriff and other cops joining the march in honor of George Floyd.

Tensions between protestors and the police have increased since the death of Floyd and demonstrations have erupted across the country.  According to MLive, the peaceful protest in Michigan on Saturday started at 6 p.m. with eight people and then swelled to hundreds.

Many held up signs that declared “Black Lives Matter,” “White silence is violence” and “Racism is still the biggest pandemic we face.” There were also chants of “No justice, no peace, no racist police.”

READ MORE: Black men form human shield to protect police officer during protest

Flint, Michigan protest (Credit: social media)

Johnie Franklin, a lifelong Flint resident and organizer, explained why it was necessary for their presence to be felt.

“This is historic. The whole damn city is out here. Man, look at this. This is bigger than any one of us. This is for Ahmaud Arbery. This is for Breonna (Taylor). This is for George Floyd. This is for anyone who was ever silenced. This is for all of us,” Franklin said.

“We just wanted to be heard. We wanted to have a conversation … and after today, I know we’ve been heard.”

The march found its way to the Flint Township Police Department and greeted by a line of Genesee County Sheriff’s deputies in riot gear and holding batons. The protestors took a knee.

The standoff could’ve gone badly but in an unexpected turn of events, a conversation began. Soon, they were sharing hugs and high fives.

In a gesture of peace, Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson took his helmet off and put his baton on the ground. He spoke with the protestors, telling him that the cops loved them and asked what they wanted him to do.

“We’re mad too. What can we do?” he asked.

“Join us,” the crowd said. “Walk with us.”

“Let’s go!” Swanson replied.

 

He and the other officers joined the march and walked with the protestors. They wanted it to be a show of unity in how communities can work together with the police.

“We want to be with y’all for real so I took the helmet off and laid the batons down,” said Swanson. “I want to make this a parade, not a protest.

The crowd cheered him on.

“This is the way it’s supposed to be — the police working with the community,” Swanson said. “When we see injustice, we call it out on the police side and on the community side. All we had to do was talk to them, and now we’re walking with them. … The cops in this community, we condemn what happened. That guy (Chauvin) is not one of us.”

Cops listening to what their community wanted was a plot twist but one that was needed. The show of solidarity was applauded across social media.

READ MORE: White women in Louisville line up to form human shield to protect Black protesters

“This!! This is what I’ve been saying! Police in their towns standing with their citizens and calling out the cops who are dishonoring the badge. This is trust-building in a community – recognizing wrong and injustice and then doing something about it, standing up, speaking out,” one tweeted.

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