Justice

Kalamazoo leaders were briefed before “hands-off” response to Proud Boys rally

City commissioners knew about officers' plans to stay out-of-the-way during rally that turned violent.

Kalamazoo City Commissioners were briefed beforehand on a Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety plan to stay hands-off during an August 15 rally that devolved into violence. That’s one of the findings discovered in a review of documents obtained by MLive in a Freedom of Information Act request.

KDPS has faced overwhelming criticism for the decision, which allowed members of the racist Proud Boys group and Kalamazoo counterprotesters to engage each other sometimes violently.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

A weekday morning email roundup of Kalamazoo stories and events.

Prior to the planned rally, KDPS staff met with some commissioners, including Mayor David Anderson, to brief them on the proposed approach.

Typically, KDPS doesn’t run operational procedures by city leadership. But in this case public safety officials were worried about how the department would be perceived after its vigorous response to Black Lives Matter protests in June.

KDPS Chief Karianne Thomas retired Wednesday following criticism of the department’s handling of both events.

Thomas wrote in an email to city commissioners the day before the rally that members of the department’s Crowd Management Team (CMT) would be on-hand for the rally, but not near the rally.

“The CMT will not be downtown but staged at a KDPS facility and will be wearing their protective gear,” wrote Thomas in the email. “The CMT will be used, if necessary, for an officer safety/extraction issue or an issue require immediate entrance into the crowd such as a critical medical issue.”

You can read the full story here.

The average story costs NowKalamazoo $400 to produce. Donate to fund stories like this.