Protestors in Ferndale call for Racial Equality and Justice for George Floyd
(Crystal A. Proxmire, May 31, 2020)
Ferndale, MI – About 200 people lined 9 Mile and Woodward Avenue Sunday afternoon to protest racial injustice following the death of George Floyd on Monday in Minneapolis. Floyd died after police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck while he pleaded for life and said he couldn’t breathe. Other officers failed to intervene. The death of Floyd is one of many deaths of a black man at the hands of police that has raised the issue of racism across the county.
Protests have been happening in cities large and small, including Detroit where there has been property damage, as well as one teenager dead of a gunshot. The protest was mild compared to riots that destroyed parts of Minneapolis, Atlanta, New York and other cities around the county and the globe. In Metro Detroit several smaller protests have been up, including in Pontiac, Royal Oak, and the one in Ferndale this afternoon.
Ferndale Police Chief Vincent Palazzolo stood in the median among the protestors, with another officer across the street, not just to help keep the peace but also “to show that we’re part of the community, we’re here right along with them,” he said. “Ferndale is an active community, and there are a lot of protests. And we support people’s right to do that.”
The signs shared sentiments of support for the black community. “I see you. I hear you. I stand with you. I walk with you. You matter,” was among the messages. “Black lives matter.”
Ferndale Mayor Melanie Piana was part of the protest. She and other city leaders have long been discussing and acting upon matters of racial inequality. For example:
In 2018, City Council ordered a full review of the police department and has since been using recommendations by the consulting firm to improve all areas of police work, including equity. The police have also provided discussions with residents and the Ferndale Inclusion Network. In Sept. 2018, for example, they did a presentation about “suspicious person” calls that disproportionately are against people of color. And in Aug 2019 City Council passed a resolution denouncing white supremacy.
On Facebook, Mayor Piana noted that the rally was “peaceful and safe.” She said “Our young people make me proud in Ferndale. Thank you to our police chief and captain for being here to build relationships with our residents.”