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Robert Williams of Farmington Hills was arrested and held for more than a day in January, on larceny charges that he stole Shinola watches from a downtown Detroit store.

But Williams says he was innocent, and the only evidence police ever had against him was a facial recognition technology “match” of his old driver’s license photo against grainy surveillance footage of the real thief.

Katie Raymond / Michigan Radio

A note: In this episode we talk about school lockdown drills, which may not be appropriate for our younger listeners.

Gen Z is growing up in a world changed forever before they were even born by events like September 11 and Columbine.

They’ve also been hit with two defining events that will shape their lives in ways we can’t even anticipate: the looming threat of climate change, and the more immediate threat of COVID-19.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit ended its week-long celebration of Juneteenth with a rally at the city’s Spirit Plaza on Friday.

Juneteenth—June 19—commemorates the day in 1865 that enslaved people in Texas learned they were free, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued.

A political rally supporting gun rights was interrupted Thursday evening by counter protesters speaking out against police brutality and racism. A few tense, confrontational moments at the state Capitol building ended peacefully, but without any resolution of the differences in opinion between the two groups.

Jason Howland, one of the organizers of the “American Patriot Rally,” says he’s not a member of any group calling itself a militia, but that the rally was meant to urge people to learn more about militias across Michigan.

Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

Everyone learned about Independence Day in school: on July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress ratified the Declaration of Independence, which proclaimed the United States to be a free nation.

But not everyone was free. Nearly a century later, Black people remained enslaved throughout the country.

And many Americans still haven't learned about the day that celebrates their freedom: Juneteenth.

Sydney James stands in front of a mural of Malice Green
Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

When Detroit artist Sydney James set out to create a mural of Malice Green, a Detroit man killed by police in 1992, she wanted to represent him not as a man, but "as a monument."

In James' mural, titled "Way Too Many," a black-and-white Green is pictured holding a long makeshift scroll. On it are the names of other Black Americans who have died at the hands of police. The list, too long for one piece of paper, spans multiple sheets that wind around Green and the entire 3,500 square foot wall. Written in bold at the bottom of the final page is the phrase “& Countless Unnamed." 

students protesting in Ann Arbor
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Three weeks after police killed George Floyd, teens have been out on the streets to protest police brutality and systemic racism.

Some people may wonder: why? What is motivating teens to step out, to speak up, and to demand change?

To try and answer that, let’s move out of the streets and into the home for just a moment.

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. 

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

The protests against the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd at the hands of police continue across the country. Meanwhile, COVID-19 is having a hugely disparate impact on black communities, including in Detroit. For black journalists, the demands of covering these stories are both professional and personal. Stateside spoke with Kat Stafford, national race & ethnicity writer for the Associated Press, and Ken Coleman, reporter for the Michigan Advance about what it's like to be a black journalist at this moment in American history. 

Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

As retail businesses re-open throughout Michigan, small business owners are being asked to walk a fine line:  Attracting as many customers as they can, while also enforcing new state and local rules meant to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

We talked to two small business owners about how they’re navigating this new world. We also spoke to a number of grocery store workers from across the state, all of them union members in UFCW Local 951. 

Here’s what they had to say.

Kate Wells/Michigan Radio

A small group of mostly Arab-American organizers led a march of more than 200 people through the streets of Dearborn Sunday afternoon, in support of the Black Lives Matter rallies held across the country in the past week and a half. Calling for the formation of a citizen’s police oversight committee and other reforms, activist Nasreen Ezzeddine told the crowd, “The reality is, we do not need to look beyond Dearborn’s borders to find cases of police brutality and anti-blackness, left unaccountable.”

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.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Protesters have marched in all 50 states to demand action against police brutality and mourn the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Stateside talked to two peaceful protest organizers in Grand Rapids and Detroit about what it was like demonstrating in their cities.

Zac A. Clark / Clark Camera

After days of protest, there are signs of progress in many parts of Michigan today.

Kent County law enforcement leaders, including Grand Rapids police chief Eric Payne, joined protesters in Grand Rapids Wednesday afternoon, kneeling and chanting “I can’t breathe.”

Marcel Fable Price sitting on a set of stairs in a hoodie and khakis
Courtesy of Marcel "Fable" Price

Marcel “Fable” Price is poet laureate of Grand Rapids. He’s also the executive director of The Diatribe, a youth-focused performing arts nonprofit in Grand Rapids. He recently put out a statement about the protests against excessive police force happening here in Michigan and beyond. It read to us more like an essay, or dare we say, poetry. Listen below to hear Marcel share his thoughts on this moment in America. 


Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Update: The Grand Rapids City Commission met Tuesday and discussed the events of Saturday night. The mayor and city commissioners decided not to extend the city's 7 p.m. curfew. The full meeting is available online here.

I walked the streets of my city on the night of mayhem Saturday, and witnessed the destruction. I saw the fires burning in the street. I heard the sound of glass shattering, of people cheering. I felt the warmth from a fire as it swallowed a police vehicle on a quiet intersection.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

What started out as a large peaceful protest in Grand Rapids against police violence during the day on Saturday turned chaotic at night and into the early hours of Sunday morning. Police fired tear gas at the protesters, trying to break up the group. The group broke up into many smaller groups, but then went throughout downtown smashing windows, looting stores and setting many police cruisers on fire.

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton has released body cam videos showing Sha'Teina Grady El fiercely resisting arrest, including biting a deputy on the arm.

Grady El was arrested after she refused to move away from the perimeter of a probable crime scene. Prior to her arrest, Grady El was videotaping deputies investigating a shooting, and advising the occupant of a nearby home that they needed a warrant to enter.

demonstrators holding signs walking down Washtenaw Avenue in Ann arbor MI
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Protests continue in the state and nation following explosive uses of police force against African Americans. Recent documented incidents took place in Minneapolis, where George Floyd was killed after a police officer pushed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes, and in Southeast Michigan, where a Washtenaw County deputy repeatedly punched Sha’Teina Grady El in the head.

demonstrators marching down washtenaw avenue with signs
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

A Washtenaw County Sheriff Deputy has been placed on administrative leave as an investigation is conducted into a video recorded incident showing him apparently punching a woman in the head for refusing to leave the scene of a shooting.

Courtesy of the State Theatre and Bijou by the Bay in Traverse City

After being shut down for nearly two months, restaurants in the Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan received permission from the governor to allow sit-down dining at limited capacity just in time for Memorial Day. Some welcomed the flood of tourists for the busy holiday weekend, but others erred on the side of caution and are sticking to takeout-only service for a while longer.

family members inside a van decorated with eid decor
Nisa Khan for Michigan Radio

On Sunday, Muslims across the world celebrated the end of Ramadan, a month-long time of fasting, prayer, reflection, and community. 

With Governor Gretchen Whitmer's stay-at-home order in effect, Ramadan as a whole has looked a little different this year. In Dearborn, families displayed Ramadan lights as a way to brighten spirits during the coronavirus shutdown, since friends and extended family were unable to gather together to break fast during an evening meal known as the iftar. In Detroit, Mosques set up virtual connections across YouTube, Facebook, Zoom, and more to bring members together during Ramadan.

R&R Auto Sales in Midland after the flood
Ben Thorp / WCMU

Mid-Michigan residents are beginning to take stock of the damage wrought by historic floods.

The small village of Sanford has just over 800 residents. It lies just upstream from Midland along the Tittabawassee River.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Updated May 13, 2020 at 2:45 p.m.:

The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has suspended the license of barber Karl Manke, according to the Lansing State Journal

Lou Anna Simon in Eaton County court
Cheyna Roth

A judge has dismissed criminal charges against former Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon arising from the Larry Nassar sexual assault scandal.

Simon was ordered to trial last year on charges that she lied to police about her knowledge of a sexual misconduct complaint against Nassar. 

COVID-19 nearly killed them both: A Michigan couple's journey to hell and back

May 10, 2020
Charlunda and David Thompson
Mandi Wright / Detroit Free Press

In sickness and in health, till death do us part ...

They grew feverish together. Both David and Charlunda Thompson were coughing, too. They were indescribably tired.

Logan Chadde

In addition to cancelling sports, movie premieres, and the Olympics, the COVID-19 outbreak has caused a number of notable events in Michigan to cancel.

Here is a list of major festivals and events that have been forced to cancel or postpone due to the outbreak.

We're all adapting to this "new normal," and for our staff of reporters, producers, and hosts, it means discovering new ways to report news from across the state and from the frontlines - sometimes from your closet or with a new cat coworker. Trusted news coverage and thorough, accurate reporting are more important than ever.

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nurse holding patient's hand
ake1150 / Adobe Stock

Hospitals in metro Detroit have seen an avalanche of desperately ill patients over the past several weeks. There are still many people sick with COVID-19 in ERs and ICUs — but things have calmed down a little. We wanted to know what front-line health care workers are thinking about what they’ve seen.

This essay comes from an ER nurse, and was voiced by an actor. To protect the healthcare worker's job, we are not using their name.

Gretchen Whitmer at a podium
michigan.gov

Governor Gretchen Whitmer says it’s time to start re-engaging Michigan’s economy as the COVID-19 outbreak is plateauing in the state.

Following her decision to allow landscapers to get back to work last week, the governor says construction and outdoor businesses will likely be next. The governor says she’s loosening restrictions on commercial and residential construction.

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