GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — After an official sit-in demonstration ended shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday, hundreds of protesters remained in Grand Rapids marching through the streets.
They went from Fulton Street in the heart of downtown, all the way to East Grand Rapids and back into the downtown area.
On the journey, law enforcement mainly provided support, blocking traffic when necessary. The crowd chanted “march with us” as they walked through the outlying parts of Grand Rapids; leading some people to leave their front porches and join the march.
When the protest, which was unorganized but peaceful, reached a police barricade at Fulton Street and Sheldon Avenue, several of the black men leading the crowd talked to the Kent County Sheriff’s Deputies who were on the front line in full riot gear.
“Why can’t y’all take a knee,” one man pleaded with them. “One single solidarity knee, and that’s how simple that is. And just say, you know what ‘you guys haven’t had it that good. And we’re not like that, and we’re going to try to do better.”
The crowd agreed that if an officer took a knee, they’d leave.
Another man on the front line started a dialogue with a deputy. He asked what they needed to do to see change, and the deputy said he didn’t have the answers either but that it starts with a dialogue.
“Listen to the people, listen to the people. That’s what it’s about,” the protester told the deputy as the crowd erupted into a chant of “I can’t breathe.”
After about 20 minutes of the protesters chanting things like “peaceful protest,” and insisting all they wanted was to see a sign of solidarity from the ranks on the front line, three deputies took a knee.
The crowd cheered and starting chanting “Thank you! Thank you!”
Some of the protesters shook the deputies’ hands, and the crowd dispersed.
Protesters continue marching after planned sit-in
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