MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, MI – Activists will rally together in Muskegon Heights this weekend to protest police brutality, memorialize those who have been killed in police shootings, and register voters in West Michigan in preparation of the upcoming November election.
Black Lives Matter Muskegon will host a protest and march at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12, at Rowan City Park, 2801 Baker St., in Muskegon Heights.
This is the second protest against police brutality hosted by the new group, which was formed in July to maintain momentum of local protests held in May and June against police brutality, sparked by the killing of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed by police in Minneapolis.
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One of the main goals of Saturday’s protest is to educate and register voters in the Muskegon area, which organizer Ati Smith said is one of the most effective strategies to combating police brutality.
“We think the number one way to solve this issue is voting and getting the elected officials out of office who aren’t doing what they promised they would do,” Smith told MLive Friday. “We want to talk about voting, policy reform and holding our elected officials accountable.”
Smith, a Muskegon native, said she wants the community to understand that police brutality isn’t just the killing of unarmed Black people; it’s any type of abuse of power by police officers.
“We’re not saying that police in Muskegon are killing people, we’re saying that police everywhere are abusing their authority,” she said. “We want to let them know that we don’t hate all cops, we just want police officers to do their jobs and not abuse their authority.”
The rally is also intended as a memorial for Black people who have been killed by police, including Breonna Taylor and Philando Castile, according to the event’s Facebook page.
Smith said she also wants people to trust that Black Lives Matter Muskegon is “still here, and still fighting.” The group hosted its first rally July 4, when dozens gathered at Heritage Landing to listen to activists and speakers share their thoughts and experiences with systemic racism.
The Muskegon event was one of dozens of rallies, demonstrations and marches that had taken place across Michigan since Floyd’s death on May 25. The Minneapolis man, who is Black, died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
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Smith said she expects at least 50 people to show up to Saturday’s protest, which will be peaceful.
“We are a very peaceful organization,” she said. “We only want change and we’ll do that by any means necessary, but that doesn’t mean violence.”
There will be several activists and local officials speaking at the rally, and Smith hopes for the event to be informative for attendees.
“This is just an event for the community to come together and just to stand together and let them know, there’s power in numbers and we’re here for real change.”
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