George Floyd | Michigan Radio
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George Floyd

Steve Carmody

Hundreds of people are expected to attend a picnic at the Genesee County jail in downtown Flint Sunday.

The picnic will be from noon 'til 2 p.m. After that, organizer Johnell Allen says Sunday’s picnic is part of broader day of service in Flint and other parts of the county.

“We’re going to do some paint. We’ll straighten up some fences. We’re going to be able to clean some stuff,” says Allen. “We’re going to make sure we go to these parks. We’re going to make sure it’s clean in Genesee County.”

The murder of George Floyd a year ago brought an idea long considered radical into the mainstream of political debate. Last June, a veto-proof majority of Minneapolis City Council members pledged to defund and dismantle the police department.

But now, those same elected officials have softened their tone. And even backers of a police reform proposal headed to the city's November ballot say their measure would not eliminate armed officers.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A twelve bill police reform package goes before a state legislative committee this week.

The Senate Judiciary and Public Safety committee is expected to take up the package Thursday morning.

The bills address a wide-range of issues, from use of excessive force to search warrants.

protests, black lives matter, police, police force, police training
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, a year after the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, we’ll hear about the police reform bills moving through the state Legislature. And we’ll talk to an activist who has been pushing for Michigan police departments to deal with racial bias in traffic stops. Plus, why there’s a push to rename the University of Michigan’s Yost Ice Arena.

One week ago, people celebrated in the streets of Minneapolis as a judge read the guilty verdicts in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, convicted of murdering George Floyd.

Courtesy of Alexandria Hughes

Ayyub Ama was 14 years old when he was stopped by a police officer for the first time. The officer asked him for identification, and Ama gave him the only one he had: his middle school ID card.

Tuesday, May 25 marks the anniversary of George Floyd’s murder. 

There are protests and memorial events planned in several Michigan cities to mark the occasion and continue calls to fight racism and police brutality. 

Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard fears a wave of civil lawsuits if qualified immunity was taken away.Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan RadioEdit | Remove

A group of top law enforcement officials in Southeast Michigan are coming out against a push in Congress to do away with “qualified immunity.”

“Qualified immunity” is a legal doctrine that shields government officials from being held personally liable for damages so long as the officials did not violate clearly established law.

The prospect of changes to the law is raising concerns among law enforcement officials, who fear a wave of civil lawsuits if “qualified immunity” protections are stripped away.  They predict the litigation could bankrupt local governments. 

a group of people gather in detroit, one holding a black and white Black Lives Matter sign
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Now that a jury in Minnesota has convicted Derek Chauvin on three counts for the murder of George Floyd, the United States has entered a new chapter in its national conversation about police and use of force. But how different will this chapter be from what’s come before — and how much might change within the country’s criminal justice system and the violence it disproportionately enacts against Black Americans?

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Members of the Michigan-based protest movements that formed in the wake of George Floyd’s killing say Derek Chauvin’s murder conviction is a vindication of their cause.

Leaders from the protest movement called Detroit Will Breathe gathered with supporters in the snow in front of Detroit Police Headquarters just after the Chauvin verdict on Tuesday evening. They said the verdict shows the power of their movement, but it’s hardly the end point.

“Today is certainly a victory for the movement and defense of Black and brown lives. Unfortunately, it falls short of freedom,” said Nakia Wallace, a co-founder of Detroit Will Breathe.

Updated April 20, 2021 at 8:05 PM ET

President Biden said the guilty verdict against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin "can be a moment of significant change" for the United States as it grapples with systemic racism.

Biden and Vice President Harris addressed the nation on Tuesday, after Chauvin was found guilty of murder for the death of George Floyd during an arrest last year.

Updated April 20, 2021 at 5:37 PM ET

The jury has found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all the counts he faced over the death of George Floyd. The trial has been one of the most closely watched cases in recent memory, setting off a national reckoning on police violence and systemic racism even before the trial commenced.

Chauvin, 45, has been found guilty of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

There was no shortage of news in 2020. It felt like major stories were breaking daily, not only across the globe, but right here in Michigan. Narrowing down all of those major stories to a list of 10 was no easy task. But here are some of the biggest stories that came out of Michigan this year that you may have missed.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A federal judge late Friday temporarily barred Detroit police from using tear gas, rubber bullets, batons, shields, chokeholds or sound cannons against peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters after a group accused the city for excessive force.

The Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions

The Detroit Lions canceled their practice Tuesday to protest police brutality, following the police shooting of Jacob Blake on Sunday.

Blake was shot in the back multiple times by officers in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He is now paralyzed.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Two Michigan Democratic congresswomen are calling on Republicans in the U.S. Senate to take action on legislation on policing.

Specifically, Representative Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) and Representative Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield) want the Senate to take up the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.  

Protesters want big police reforms. Michigan lawmakers offer small changes.

Jun 22, 2020
protesters in lansing
Abigail Censky / WKAR

Protests in Michigan cities are still ongoing against racial injustice and police brutality in what is becoming one of the most sustained social movements in memory. After years of police killing African Americans at a disproportionate rate, protesters are calling for revolutionary change.

Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Protesters who have taken to Detroit’s streets in the weeks since George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police say Detroit police have brutalized them. Some recounted their stories at a self-styled tribunal on Saturday night.

Person after person gave testimony alleging that Detroit police taunted, pepper sprayed, and assaulted them at marches earlier this month – mostly for violating Detroit’s then-8 p.m. curfew.

dumpster on fire with protesters gathered around it
Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis prompted large protests in Grand Rapids. But Grand Rapids has its own history of troubling interactions between police and residents. Now the city is having tough conversations about the future of policing there.

Brian Jennings stands at the front of a crowd of protesters who marched through Grand Rapids Wednesday.
Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

The killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer set off massive protests across the U.S. At many of those protests, there was a familiar refrain: "Defund the police." It was scrawled across poster boards and chanted by protesters. But what does that actually mean? For some activists in Grand Rapids, it means reopening the city budget to move funding away from police and to other community services. LaDonna Norman, a member of the group Together We Are Safe, is one of those activists.

ABIGAIL CENSKY / WKAR

“Black Lives Matter” boomed from loudspeakers, echoing across the lawn of the Michigan State Capitol at the NAACP’s “We Are Done Dying March.”

Wednesday’s march was the latest in Lansing as part of a nationwide swell of protests for Black lives and against police brutality in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd.

The country is now in its third week of demonstrations, drawing out some who have never protested before and others who’ve spent a lifetime calling for justice. Below are some of their stories.

Brandi Whitted & Areeona Clark

michigan state capitol building in lansing, mi
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Hundreds of people marched from the Lansing Center to the state Capitol on Wednesday as part of a march against police brutality.

The words "Black Lives Matter" echoed across the Capitol lawn at the NAACP’s “We are Done Dying” march.

Nathanael Jefferson has been to several protests in Detroit and Lansing. He says he has personally been profiled in Lansing and sees police profiling all the time.

a rainbow chalk covered sidewalk
Jasmin Sessler / Unsplash

Like most things during this pandemic, Pride Month is looking a little different this year. Many of the normal gatherings and celebrations have been cancelled. Meanwhile, protests against police brutality following the death of George Floyd continue to spread across the nation. Amid the unrest and uncertainty, some activists see this Pride Month as particularly poignant. Stateside spoke with Erin Knott, executive director at Equality Michigan, and Selma Tucker with Public Sector Consultants in Lansing about the connections between the fight for LGBTQ rights and the fight for racial justice. 

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

Tuesday's rally to inform protesters about what happened in a meeting with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan got off to a rocky start.

Joanna Underwood, an activist who helped organize the first Detroit protest against police brutality, screamed at, ranted, and angrily lectured the protesters, along with two other activists she accused of "hijacking," the movement she was leading.

Underwood said Tristan Taylor and Nakia Wallace, who'd met with Duggan, were not legitimate leaders of the movement, because they were relatively new to the protest scene, while she'd been working for justice in the city for 15 years.  

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

“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. 

Brian Jennings stands at the front of a crowd of protesters who marched through Grand Rapids Wednesday.
Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Grand Rapids officials told residents the city is commited to implementing changes to make policing more accountable, and safer for residents, in an online update forum on Friday.

Fred Moon @fwed for Unsplash

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is joining 17 other state AGs in asking Congress to expand federal law to give them "clear statutory authority to investigate patterns or practices of unconstitutional policing,” Nessel’s office said Thursday. 

“We therefore ask Congress to give us explicit authority under federal law to conduct

State of Michigan

More marches and rallies are scheduled for this weekend to protest the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.

And that concerns local public health officials who fear large gatherings may spread the virus that causes COVID-19.

Denise Fair is Detroit’s Chief Public Health Officer. She says she doesn’t want to discourage people from speaking out.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Detroit city officials expect an 8 p.m. curfew will remain in place for a couple more days.

The curfew was put in place this week in response to confrontations between large groups of protesters and police.   

Dozens of protesters have been detained for violating the curfew. Although on Wednesday night, police did not enforce the curfew and protesters continued to march peacefully well after the curfew.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Update: Brian Jennings was arrested by Grand Rapids police Thursday afternoon. The Kent County Prosecutor's office initially told Michigan Radio Jennings was charged with destruction of property separately from the destruction that happened in the downtown core on Saturday night. Since then, Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker says additional charges have been filed for rioting, breaking and entering and destruction of property at 82 Ionia on Saturday. The Kent County Prosecutors office is located in the building. 

Hundreds of angry people with no leader, and no plan.

A city, and a police department, on edge.

That was Grand Rapids again last night, less than a week after protests downtown turned to destruction and looting.

But last night, things turned out differently.

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