Thursday, June 25, 2020

Rally for peace

Demonstrations take place 
downtown and at Ford Field

The Black Lives Matter rally at Ford Field featured many
young speakers who spoke out against racism
and shared their personal experiences. Photo by Liz Cezat. 
The City of Northville was the site of two peaceful demonstrations last week to call attention to the Black Lives Matter movement, protest police brutality across the nation, and rally against racism in the United States. 
The Black Lives Matter rally took place Friday, June 12, at Ford Field. It was organized by Northville High School graduate Natalie Turner, who now attends Northwestern University. An estimated 1,000 - 1,200 people attended, according to police estimates.

Protesters took to the downtown streets for a peaceful
march holding signs and chanting. Photo by Liz Cezat. 
After the initial gathering, the group marched near city hall and through downtown, chanting “No Justice, No Peace” and other slogans of the movement, holding up hand-lettered signs to emphasize their views. Returning to Ford Field, protesters sat on the grass and listened as speakers, many in their 20s, shared stories of what it is like to be black or to live in a society that condones racism. In memory of the suffocation death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, the protesters knelt for eight minutes and 46 seconds in honor of his life and to express sorrow at the cause of his death.
The One World Family: A Demonstration for Unity drew approximately 150 people to the park behind city hall on Saturday, June 13. Organized by local moms under the leadership of Margaret Shoesmith, the event rallied community support for anti-racism. Student/activist Morgan Stephens was one of the speakers. Northville Mayor Brian Turnbull addressed the crowd, saying he is committed to overcoming racism. He signed an oversized copy of a document called “My Brother's Keeper,” which he said will be hung in city hall.
Northville Police Chief Alan Maciag talked to the crowd about police use of force in the city, noting that the department was one of the first in the area to use body-worn cameras, which documents and records officers' contacts with citizens.
He said a key to good policing is the hiring of police officers.
 “You want to hire people that conduct themselves with ethics, integrity and respect, and act professionally. They are held accountable if they don't follow through,” he said of the Northville officers. 
He explained that the city police officers are trained annually in anti-bias, gender-bias, community engagement and verbal de-escalation. In Northville, officers have a duty to intervene if excessive force is used by a fellow officer, he said.  In addition, the Northville Police Department voluntarily reports the use of force to the FBI National Use of Force data collection site.
“It's important to have a strong bond with the community and be transparent,” said Maciag. He invited anyone who has questions or wants to discuss polices to contact him.
Most of those in the crowds at each gathering wore masks and kept a social distance to minimize the risk of catching or spreading COVID-19.
Officers from both Northville Township and the city were present at each of the events and provided traffic control at the Friday event due to the large crowd and march through downtown.