Chanting and carrying signs, dozens of protesters march June 4 in Grosse Pointe City to advocate for equality and an end to systemic racism.

Chanting and carrying signs, dozens of protesters march June 4 in Grosse Pointe City to advocate for equality and an end to systemic racism.

Photo by K. Michelle Moran


Dozens take part in peaceful march for racial justice and equality

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published June 9, 2020

 Grosse Pointe South High School graduate Charvaé Kennedy, now an educator and business owner, speaks to demonstrators about the need to end systemic racism during a march Kennedy organized June 4 in Grosse Pointe City.

Grosse Pointe South High School graduate Charvaé Kennedy, now an educator and business owner, speaks to demonstrators about the need to end systemic racism during a march Kennedy organized June 4 in Grosse Pointe City.

Photo by K. Michelle Moran

 Public safety directors from the Grosse Pointes — from left, John Schulte, of the Shores; Daniel Jensen, of the Farms; and Stephen Poloni, of the City and Park — join protestors calling for racial equality and an end to police brutality June 4 in the City, kneeling with the protesters as they remember the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Public safety directors from the Grosse Pointes — from left, John Schulte, of the Shores; Daniel Jensen, of the Farms; and Stephen Poloni, of the City and Park — join protestors calling for racial equality and an end to police brutality June 4 in the City, kneeling with the protesters as they remember the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Photo by K. Michelle Moran

GROSSE POINTE CITY — The killing of George Floyd while he was being arrested May 25 in Minneapolis has sparked outrage and protests around the world.  Footage shows police officer Derrick Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, for which Chauvin is now facing murder charges.

Less than a week after a May 30 car caravan through the Grosse Pointes and Harper Woods in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, Grosse Pointers again raised their voices for justice, equality and an end to police brutality during a march in Grosse Pointe City June 4. Chanting and carrying signs with messages like “Black Lives Matter” and the names of people who have been killed by police or others in racially motivated incidents nationwide, an estimated 50 to 60 marchers walked down Cadieux Road and Maumee Avenue.

Charvaé Kennedy, of Detroit, a former Grosse Pointe Park resident, organized the march with friends and fellow Grosse Pointe South High School graduates Dango Forlaine, of Detroit; Larry Borum III, of Canton; and DiAntre Gibson, of Grosse Pointe Farms.

“It means a lot to see people standing together,” Gibson said.

Kennedy is a business owner who teaches children from birth to 5 years old.

“If you know someone who is racist, shut it down,” Kennedy said. “I can tell you, as a teacher, everything is learned.”

During her years in the Pointes, Kennedy, who is black, said she experienced and witnessed a number of acts of racism, including a time when police were called to her home for a supposedly rowdy party of teenagers that was actually a family barbecue.

“We cannot do this anymore,” Kennedy said of the systemic racism that continues to rear its ugly head.

Borum, who is now in graduate school, recalled being perceived as a threat by a passing motorist when, as a middle schooler, he and his friends were walking to school one day. When he told his mother about the driver — who told Borum, who is black, “We don’t want any trouble here” — Borum said his mother sadly informed her son that he couldn’t wear a do-rag and hoodie over his head “in this community,” as he had been that day.

The march was emotional but peaceful. Kennedy said that was her intent when organizing it.

“I (said I) will not do violence,” she said. “I will not do looting. I just want to be heard. … If you all understood the pain that comes with this. … It is hard to be black in America. I was scared that someone would get hurt or injured or arrested (during the march).”

Donna Goree, of Detroit, a former resident of the Pointes, said her children graduated from Grosse Pointe South High School.

“I would encourage you to talk to your children (about racism),” Goree, who is African American, told attendees. “You’ve got to tell your children the truth. If you tell them the truth, they’ll grow up better.”

Stephen Poloni, the public safety director for Grosse Pointe City and Grosse Pointe Park, thanked Kennedy for organizing the march.

“When we saw that video (of Floyd), we were in tears too,” Poloni said. “We were appalled. … We stand with you today. We don’t tolerate that (kind of behavior). We don’t train that (to our officers).”

Poloni was joined by Grosse Pointe Shores Public Safety Director John Schulte and Grosse Pointe Farms Public Safety Director Daniel Jensen, who marched alongside the protesters, along with officers from different Grosse Pointe public safety departments. A similar march took place earlier in the week in Grosse Pointe Woods.

Gibson thanked the police on hand for their support. Officers had also been handing out masks and bottles of water to anyone in the crowd who wanted them.

“I appreciate everything you’re doing right now,” Gibson said to the officers. “The officers like you are officers we do not have a problem with.”

Although the Pointes have become more diverse in recent years, the cities are still predominantly white. Gibson, who is black, told the protesters in attendance who were white, “It means a lot to us, seeing you here.”

“We are one human race,” he said. “We’re here to celebrate unity and not division.”