East Lansing takes part in protests, BLM movement

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Protesters seen on Gunson and Grand River. Photo by Austin Winslow.

Since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the world has moves toward equality and recognition of black lives. Floyd’s death has reached people everywhere, including in the East Lansing area.

Students at Michigan State and members of organizations have felt the need to express what they can do to help the movement.

Michigan State College Democrats are a group at Michigan State University that have been active on social media is the. The club’s social media chair Connor Crennell has been very active on social media towards the Black Lives Matters movement

“It’s been hard to create a coordinated response since our members are spread across the state working on different things” Crennell said.  “We’ve been active on social media and supporting the movement.”

Crennell saidother than social media, the best way to see change in social justice starts in Washington.

“The top priority for anyone wishing to support the movement should be to participate in the election this November,” said Crennell. “Solidarity on social media is important but no real change is going to happen unless our representatives are aligned with the ideals of the movement.”

He also emphasized from a federal viewpoint, the administration has not handled both the pandemic and the recent civil rights crises.

Junior public policy student and state chair of the Michigan youth climate strike, Natalie Kalass.

“We need to make sure to amplify black voices and take this opportunity to hear them” Kalass said. “We need to create safe spaces and have conversations deprioritizing white comfort.”

Kalass, who is white, said how they have just as much of an impact and responsibility based off of one’s privileges.

“White people have a responsibility to recognize our privilege and educate ourselves,” Kalass said. “Have those conversations that make you uncomfortable, and educate those in your family, friends, and community.”

Kalass, similar to Crennell, said she believes that a lot starts from voting for those who are “actively fighting the system.”

Another perspective

Officers across the country are taking action in multiple fashions, whether quitting their jobs and joining protests, or even getting physical with some of the protesters.

For the East Lansing Police Department, they try to stress the fact how they want protesters to exercise their right according to the First Amendment.

The East Lansing Police Department is listening. After many days of global protests following the death of George Floyd, ELPD Interim Chief Steve Gonzalez said his department is taking it all in and making sure voices are heard.

“Our operation model is to do everything to protect protesters and facilitate as they can exercise their First Amendment right and allow them to be safe,” Gonzalez.

Gonzalez said he told his officer to officers to make sure the protesters are being safe by directing traffic so the protesters do what they have to do.

In the most recent protest on June 7, and in the video and photos below, that is exactly what they did. 

Protesters say names of those killed unarmed. Video by Austin Winslow.

Along with his say on how East Lansing is handling those wanting to protest, defunding the police has also been a recent push among many on social media and across the news.

“Definitely a conversation that is out there and  a well-thought-out comprehensive conversation needs to be had,” he said. “There’s a school of thought to reduce the budgets and redirect that to social services.” Gonzalez said how from the perspective of a law enforcement, the profession is going to change, with the hope of it being “positive,” according to Gonzalez.

Gonzalez saidhe and the rest of the department are trying to let the people’s voices be heard.

“I cannot stress enough how we are listening to protesters. Certain changes can be implemented and some can be slow,” he said.

With the police needing to take a different approach to the protest, both are trying to adjust to the movement getting to East Lansing. Both “parties” are approaching the protests differently, while at the same time with the peaceful end in mind.

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