Hundreds of protesters shut down Miller Road Saturday in Flint Township, seeking justice for George Floyd.
Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died after being handcuffed by Minneapolis police investigating an alleged forgery the night of Monday, May 25. Video shared widely on social media shows white Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for several minutes. In the footage, Floyd can be heard repeatedly saying he cannot breathe as civilians urge Chauvin to get off him and check his pulse.
Floyd’s death set off a series of protests in cities across the country.
The peaceful march in Flint Township started at 6 p.m. with a small group of about eight people, but quickly grew to hundreds. The group blocked I-75 southbound on- and off-ramps along Miller Road.
Supporters in vehicles, in a line stretching nearly a quarter mile long, drove behind the walking protesters.
Signs reading “Black lives matter,” “White silence is violence" and “Racism is still the biggest pandemic we face” were seen in the crowd. Chants were heard, including “No justice, no peace, no racist police."
“This is historic. The whole damn city is out here. Man, look at this. This is bigger than any one of us. This is for Ahmaud Arbery. This is for Breonna (Taylor). This is for George Floyd. This is for anyone who was ever silenced. This is for all of us," said Johnie Franklin, a lifelong Flint resident and organizer. “We just wanted to be heard. We wanted to have a conversation ... and after today, I know we’ve been heard.”
After more than two hours, the march was led to the Flint Township Police Department, where protesters were met with a line of Flint Township officers and Genesee County Sheriff’s deputies wearing riot gear and holding batons.
Protesters initially sat down to show their peace, and after conversations sparked between police and protesters, common ground was found. High-fives, hugs and fist bumps were exchanged.
Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson took his helmet off and put his baton on the ground as a sign of peace.
Swanson and other Flint-area police officers ultimately joined the march, which continued back past the Genesee Valley Mall onto Miller Road to the Target parking lot.
“This is the way it’s supposed to be — the police working with the community,” Swanson said. “When we see injustice, we call it out on the police side and on the community side. All we had to do was talk to them, and now we’re walking with them. ... The cops in this community, we condemn what happened. That guy (Chauvin) is not one of us."