Black Lives Matter chapter in Lansing, Michigan is demanding a 20% police defunding estimated to be around $10 million, according to its calculation.
Angela Waters Austin, the group’s leader wants Mayor Andy Schor to resign if he refuses to defund the local police department and reinvest it into the Black community.
More than 100 arms-bearing people rallied in front of City Hall with demands for social change. In addition to the $9.6 million to be withdrawn from the Lansing Police Department and funneled into the Black community, they asked for a commitment to defeat President Donald Trump in the November election. Should the mayor not agree to the request, they wanted him to resign.
When Austin she told them that she asked Schor to resign, one of the protesters chimed in, “We don’t ask. We demand!”
The armed group’s confidence began to show.
“We demand the police be defunded because they have never protected Black people,” Austin said.
Austin stated law enforcement tear-gassed protesters in downtown Lansing, but white, armed protesters who confronted Governor Gretchen Whitmer during an anti-shutdown at the Capitol were protected.
Other speakers had their opportunity to express themselves, including a former Black employee in the mayor’s office, Natasha Atkinson.
“When they don’t value our neighborhoods that we put our hard-earned money into … now is the time, Lansing, to decide where you stand,” Atkinson said, according to the Lansing City Pulse.
Atkinson got fired in February, claiming it was due to bias, Lansing City Pulse reported.
Austin plans on scheduling another protest at the Capitol with the intent it will be a statewide event. This particular chapter is one Austin co-founded, though she admitted that the group never protested like this until now.
She cited her inspiration from Paul Birdsong, a prominent new BLM leader in the Lansing area who has led daily protests since June 1, according to the Lansing State Journal.
“Paul has been holding things down night after night after night under the threat of white supremacists in spite of the lack of protection of the police of the city of Lansing and the mayor,” Austin said.
“You deserve the right to be protected,” she said. “You own the city.”
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