Justice

Investigators to hold public meetings about police response to protests

A group hired by the city to investigate how public safety handled protests over the summer will convene two public input sessions in January.

Kalamazoo residents have had lots to say about how public safety dealt with protests over the summer. And now they’ll have their chance to be heard by investigators hired to look into the issues.

The OIR Group – hired to conduct the investigation and issue recommendations to the city – will hold two public forums in January to hear from people who witnessed incidents in June and August.

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Residents were upset by the city’s handling of Black Lives Matter protests in late May and early June. Those protests were met with officers in riot gear wielding pepper spray.

Residents were even more upset in August when officers took a hands-off approach to a rally by the racist Proud Boys group in downtown Kalamazoo. That incident devolved into violence that resulted in several injuries and ten arrests, including the arrests of a reporter and a legal observer.

The public hearings will be held virtually via Zoom and livestreamed over YouTube and Facebook.

City commission meetings on the subject have already included hours of comments from members of the public, so these public input sessions are expected to be similarly packed.

“This is an important step to move our community forward,” said Dorla Bonner, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Director for the City of Kalamazoo. “Although the City of Kalamazoo doesn’t have an active role in this review, we encourage people participate in these input sessions or contact OIR directly to share their feelings and experiences from these events.”

You can find out more on the city’s website.

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