“Police officers antagonized and threatened young people”

Kalamazoo residents weighed in on police mishandling of summer protests during second public listening session.

“I watched as dozens of police officers antagonized and threatened young people, children,” said Kalamazoo resident Tandy Moore during a public listening session on Monday night.

She was speaking of protests held in the City of Kalamazoo in the days after George Floyd was murdered by police officers in Minneapolis in May of 2020.

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At that time, police responded with riot gear and pepper spray to disperse the crowds that had gathered downtown. That response, and the “hands-off” response to a right-wing rally that descended into violence in August, has caused the city to reckon with the way its public safety department operates.

The public listening session is the second and final one being held by outside investigators, the OIR Group, in order to give the city an objective view of problems with its policing practices.

During the hour-and-a-half long session, held virtually and streamed live, several dozen city residents reflected on the events of June and August 2020.

Some accused public safety officers of specifically seeking to intimidate and repress protesters during Black Lives Matter protests in May and June.

“I believe the events to have been performative in nature by governmental leadership, political leadership, and I allege the purpose for such behavior was for political gain and to appease privileged, unafflicted community members who wouldn’t even dare to venture into the sides of town most harmed because of the intentionally afflicted inequality in this society,” said Melissa Ray.

Others were more circumspect.

“I think we have a good police department, I think they want to work with the city, they want to create change,” said Valerie Boggan, who also said it is the systems that need changing.

You can read more on MLive.

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