5/22/23: A (mostly) peaceful protest

Monday, May 22, 2023

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A weekend protest over a drag show in Portage remained mostly peaceful despite some angry yelling between two sides. Also: Kalamazoo schools officially hired Darrin Slade to be its superintendent. And a Wednesday open house will show off new plans for changing a downtown street from a one-way into a two-way.

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KPS superintendent is official

Kalamazoo Public Schools officially has a new superintendent. The Board of Education voted to offer the job to Dr. Darrin Slade on May 11. That launched a process of background checks and negotiations that ended last Thursday with his formal hiring.

This week, Slade will begin a lengthy onboarding process. Board President TiAnna Harrison said he will receive district documents and hold virtual meetings with interim superintendent Cindy Green. “Once Dr. Slade is in the district, there will be one-on-one meetings set up with internal staff as well as external stakeholders in the community. We will connect him to area leaders for organizations that support students in Kalamazoo Public Schools, county superintendent groups, state legislators, and state associations,” she said. His official first day on the job is expected to be June 23.

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Opposing protests noisy but mostly peaceful at weekend drag show

Opposing groups of protesters shouted at each other across the street outside a Portage church on Saturday but were mostly peaceful. Inside the Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Southwest Michigan was a “Drag 101” workshop followed by an evening drag show. Promotion of the event prompted a small group of right wing protesters to gather across the street. That in turn prompted a much larger group of counter-protesters to convene outside the church. All of that prompted Portage Public Safety officers to line the road, keeping the groups separated. There was only one instance of violence – a small fight broke out briefly before being broken up by police.

The scenario was reminiscent of a rally in downtown Kalamazoo in August 2020 that likely featured some of the same people as Saturday’s protests. In 2020, police didn’t intervene until after fighting broke out. Several people were arrested and the chief of the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety was fired over the mishandled response. Saturday’s protests were dull by comparison. The few opponents of the drag show eventually packed up and left without fanfare. [WWMT]

Wednesday meeting to unveil 2-way street plan

On Wednesday, Kalamazoo city officials will reveal plans for converting Kalamazoo Avenue from a one-way to a two-way street. They’ll also be on-hand to answer questions and gather feedback from the community. The project is not set to begin until 2024, but city planners are in the process of finalizing the designs for the construction that will be done. Besides reversing the flow of traffic for half the street, the city intends to improve pedestrian and transit features, and add lighting, benches, and trees.

Wednesday’s event will be open house style. Once the event has ended, the new plans will be posted on the city’s Imagine Kalamazoo project webpage. The city is also working on a series of short videos describing the project, its history, and how it’s evolved. Wednesday’s event will be held at Bell’s Brewery from 4:30 to 7pm. Another, similar open house is scheduled for May 30, but is intended primarily for downtown businesses. [MLive]

Things To Do In Kalamazoo

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Public Services Week: All Things Water – 415 E Stockbridge
5:30PM 5/22, 5/24

Public Services Week: All Things Wastewater – 1415 N Harrison
5:30PM 5/22, 5/24

Shut Up & Write! – this is a bookstore | Bookbug
6:00PM 5/22

Mama’s Family: Finding your Female Ancestors – Kalamazoo Public Library, Eastwood
6:30PM 5/22

In Search of True Friendship – Public Media Network
6:30PM 5/22

shame w/ Been Stellar – Bell’s Eccentric Cafe
8:00PM 5/22

May Mastermind Luncheon – The Catalyst Center
11:00AM 5/23

West Michigan Area Show Juror Talk: A Conversation with Alison Wong – Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
12:00PM 5/23

Pooches On The Patio Opening Day – Crafted Copper
4:00PM 5/23

Public Services Week: All Things Public Works – 415 E Stockbridge
5:30PM 5/23, 5/25

Public Services Week: Groundwater and Water Production at the Central Pumping Station – 215 E Stockbridge
5:30PM 5/23, 5/25

Jazz with Barry Ross, Violin, and Terry Lower, Jazz Piano – Martell’s
5:30PM 5/23

Open Mic with THE DOC! – Old Dog Tavern
6:00PM 5/23

Death Cafe discussion group – Kazoo Books
6:00PM 5/23

Hip Hop with Speak It Forward Showcase – Kalamazoo Public Library, Alma Powell
6:30PM 5/23

Trivia night – Shakespeare’s Pub
7:00PM 5/23

Redefining Normal: How Two Foster Kids Beat the Odds and Discovered Healing, Happiness, and Love – Portage District Library
7:00PM 5/23

Garlic Mustard & Dame’s Rocket Pulling Day – Kalamazoo Nature Center
8:30AM 5/24

Party in the Park – Bronson Park
10:00AM 5/24

this is a puzzle competition – this is a bookstore | Bookbug
6:00PM 5/24

Board Game Night – Main Street Pub, West Main
6:00PM 5/24

Eating Wild for the Future – Kalamazoo Area Wild Ones
7:00PM 5/24

3 of a Kind – Hilton Garden Inn
7:00PM 5/24

Decades of Hits! – Kalamazoo Civic Theatre
7:30PM 5/24

“Love Is…” volume 6 – Kalamazoo Bach Festival
7:30PM 5/24

Karaoke – Shakespeare’s Pub
8:30PM 5/24

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