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Michigan sheriff ditches riot gear to march with demonstrators: ‘These cops love you!’

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Amid seemingly endless and disturbing video images of rioting, looting, violence, and other acts of madness following the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd come images of peace and solidarity.

Footage of a Michigan sheriff joining a crowd of peaceful demonstrators as they marched over the weekend is going viral and this time, for all the right reasons.

As MLive reported, a crowd of protesters marched towards 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.”

The site added:

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, who is white, gave an impromptu speech as he joined the crowd, making it plain that he was supportive of them and wanted to be among them.

“We want to be with you all, for real,” Swanson said. “So, I took my helmet off, we laid the batons down. I want to make this a parade, not a protest.”

“These cops love you. That cop over their hugs people,” the sheriff said, pointing to a deputy off-camera. “So, you tell us what we need to do.”

At the point, the crowd began chanting, “Walk with us! Walk with us!”

And Swanson did. “Okay, let’s go! Let’s walk!” He said.

“This is the way it’s supposed to be — the police working with the community,” Swanson said later, according to MLive. “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 is not one of us,” Swanson added, referencing fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who has been charged with third-degree murder after keeping Floyd pinned to the pavement for several minutes until he became unresponsive.

“Because I believe it, he is not one of us, you can’t justify that kind of nonsense,” he noted further, according to the Detroit Free Press.

“We can’t forget on all our police cars across the nation it says, ‘protect and serve,’” Swanson noted further, reported The Daily Wire. “That means all people, that means all people deserve the same dignity. If you can’t call out what’s wrong, try to make it right. And that’s the magic we saw tonight. Nobody’s arrested, nobody got hurt. This is how it’s supposed to be.”

“Hey, I want you to hear this. In my entire career, I will never forget this night,” Swanson said at the end of the march, the Daily Wire noted. “Because what I saw is what the entire nation saw when they see people that are angry, people that feel like they don’t have a voice, turn in a second when the police listen to them when the police understand them.”

 

We need more of this please.

— Elizabeth Vargas (@EVargasTV) May 31, 2020

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Swanson is now urging police around the country to try similar measures to diffuse situations where possible.

“Police leadership needs to take action on breaking down the first barrier,” he said, according to the Detroit Free Press. “Police leadership, if they’re not doing it already, come from behind your podiums, come from outside the conference rooms and the incident command centers, talk to the people. That is the difference.

“People that have something to say when nobody listens continues to be enraged and we are not going to fix the divide overnight, but you can see what happened instantaneously,” he said.

Jon Dougherty

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