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 Hundreds protest the death of George Floyd along Big Beaver and Coolidge Highway in Troy the evening of June 1.

Hundreds protest the death of George Floyd along Big Beaver and Coolidge Highway in Troy the evening of June 1.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Peaceful protest draws 500 near Somerset Collection

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published June 2, 2020

 Marchers take to the streets in Troy June 1.

Marchers take to the streets in Troy June 1.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


TROY — Hundreds listened to speeches, carried signs and lined Big Beaver Road and Coolidge Highway in Troy to peacefully protest the death of George Floyd the evening of June 2. 

Video shows Floyd with the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer on his neck during his arrest May 25, his cry of “I can’t breathe” before his death becoming a rallying cry against police brutality and racism across the country. 

A poster for the Troy event said that BAMN was the organizer of the event. 

In a Facebook post June 1, a group with that acronym, By Any Means Necessary, said they were not involved with the protest in Troy and asserted that they would instead be marching in Detroit June 1. 

Troy police Sgt. Meghan Lehman told C & G Newspapers that an organizer for the  BAMN group, identified in other reports as the Black Activist Movement Network, went into the Troy Police Department earlier June 1 to talk to police about the planned protest. An organizer for that group could not be reached at press time. 

“Be the change you want to see, peaceful protest for justice” reads the top of an event flier.

Troy police on Twitter lauded the group’s efforts: “Shout out to the Black Alliance Movement Network for organizing a peaceful and positive event today. Excellent leadership was displayed by the young people that put this together,” the department tweeted.

Lehman said a 68-year-old Troy man was arrested for felonious assault for intentionally striking a protester with his car on northbound Coolidge Highway, at Big Beaver. The victim was not injured. 

Lehman said police initially believed a small group would assemble. The crowd grew to about 500 people. A small group reportedly refused to leave at 10 p.m. There is no curfew in Troy at this time. Mutual aid from other jurisdictions were called in but were not needed when the group left after police asked them again to leave, Lehman said. 

Somerset Collection closed June 1. It had reopened for business May 29. 

“Given recent events at shopping destinations across the country, coupled with the company-wide closures of many of our retailers, Somerset Collection is taking the necessary safety precautions for everyone involved, which includes closing our center today,” Peter Van Dyke, a spokesman for Somerset Collection, said in a prepared statement.    “Somerset Collection values and supports freedom of speech and peaceful protest.” 

Michigan Department of Civil Rights Interim Director Mary Engelman released a statement on the killing of Floyd and the outbreak of violence in Michigan communities, including Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids.

“The death of George Floyd did not happen in Michigan, but there have been incidents like it here, and we cannot wait for it to happen again to speak. We can no longer accept token measures and lip service in response to the real risk too many people face every time they leave their homes,” she said in the statement.

“We call on leaders at all levels to come together in a substantive way to address the systemic racism and bias, both explicit and implicit, that leads to tragedies like the ones we’ve witnessed in Minnesota, in Georgia and in Kansas in the last few weeks alone. Our shared sin is not just that racial police abuses happen, but that they continue to happen. We must do everything in our power to say, ‘This ends now.’

“Peaceful protest can be an important tool for sparking change. Civil disobedience makes a powerful statement in support, but violent civil unrest only makes matters worse for those who must live with the problem every day. We will never right these wrongs by hurting innocents and burning our cities. The question everyone should be asking is ‘What can I do to help make things better?’ The answer may involve protest, but must also include other concrete, positive actions.”