Police video shows clashes between racists, protesters

KDPS released body camera footage showing racists provoking and protesters responding with violence.

During a video press conference Tuesday, the Kalamazoo Public Safety Department (KDPS) released body camera footage showing the progression of a racist rally August 15 that devolved into violence.

Kalamazoo residents have complained that KDPS let things get out of hand, protected members of the racist Proud Boys group, and arrested ten people including a reporter and a legal observer.

Police video was to be released publicly Wednesday on KDPS’ transparency webpage.

“The investigation shows that most of the felonious assaults and those that were armed with weapons like clubs and bats and batons were from counterprotesters,” said Assistant Chief David Boysen. “We do have some cases of the Proud Boys that would maybe be fighting which would be city ordinance violations.”

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The video shows three distinct incidences of violence: One that lasted about a minute, one that lasted 49 seconds, and one that lasted 34 seconds, according to WOOD TV 8.

KDPS Assistant Chief Vernon Coakley said protesters were clearly armed with everything from bats to firearms. Members of the Proud Boys used pepper spray against protesters, which Coakley said was legal as a means of self defense.

a bird's eye view of a crowd outside a building

Reverend Nathan Dannison of First Congregational Church organized a peaceful prayer vigil prior to the rally. He told MLive that he wants to know what KDPS will do to keep Kalamazoo safe from “domestic terror organizations like the Proud Boys.”

“It is a federal offense to cross state lines to incite a riot,” he said. “They armed themselves, crossed state lines, attacked our citizens, and left. All of this with a local police escort.”

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Boysen said KDPS’ goal was to get the racist ralliers out of town as quickly as possible.

“We knew the longer they stayed the more fights we’d have and we just wanted them out of town,” he said.

A city subcommittee is developing a set of recommendations for how KDPS should respond to rallies and protests in the future. They released a preliminary report last week and intended to formally present it to the city commission Tuesday.

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