“Say his name...Milton Hall!”
This week, George Floyd’s name has been heard in cities across Michigan. But in Saginaw, marchers chanted a different name.
Milton Hall was killed by six Saginaw police officers in a parking lot eight years ago. Combined, the officers fired 47 shots. 11 struck Hall.
Hall, who had a mental illness, was holding a small knife.
The officers were later cleared of wrongdoing. Milton’s mother eventually received a six figure settlement from the city.
Hall’s death sparked outrage. It also led to change in the police department’s leadership and the way it serves the city.
Police Chief Robert Ruth says in the years since Hall’s death, the department has improved training, community engagement and transparency.
He says the movement spurred by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month should help his department and other local law enforcement agencies in Michigan.
“The movement, it’s going to change legislation in Lansing,” says Ruth. “And that’s what’s going to help me make moves here in Saginaw.”
Ruth and other law enforcement leaders took part in a Black Lives Matter rally and march that took place in the parking lot where Milton Hall died in a hail of bullets eight years ago.
Among those taking part was Hall’s cousin, Pastor Michael D. Washington.
He lamented the violence that took his cousin’s life in 2012.
But Washington credits the police department with making systematic change in the years since. Something Washington says the rest of country still must do.
“As a country we have a ways to go, and I think the primary reason is we fail to acknowledge there is a problem,” says Washington.
Friday’s rally and march drew a diverse cross section of Saginaw’s population.
Speakers stressed the need to do more than march for change.
They told the crowd to vote, be involved and speak against racism in private, not just in public.