‘Silence is not enough’: Kalamazoo activists rally to demand accountability from city officials
KALAMAZOO, MI – Kalamazoo activists demand that city officials be held accountable for issues such as police brutality, homelessness and food inequality, arguing that “silence is not enough” when it comes to to implement changes within the community.
Organizers of the popular organization Uplift Kalamazoo staged a downtown protest on Saturday, June 5, outside the Kalamazoo County Courthouse, where activists spoke about issues that need to be addressed in the city.
The protest was organized in response to a silent memorial held in honor of George Floyd last week, who organizers say did not do enough to tackle racial disparities in the city.
RELATED: Hundreds of people gather for 9 minutes and 29 seconds of silence in Kalamazoo to remember George Floyd
“We don’t have time for moments of silence,” said the protest organizer, who calls himself “King Ryan” but refused to identify with MLive. “It looks good, it looks noble, but we don’t have time for it when people are here hungry and scared.” When you are black, even when you close your door at night, you are still afraid. It does not relieve us at all.
The protest brought together around 40 people, most of whom were members of Uplift Kalamazoo and participating community groups Food Not Bombs and Revolutionary People’s League (RPL).
RPL leader Luzon Amaru, who spoke at the protest, urged Saturday protesters to get involved with local grassroots organizations that are actively working to do good in the community.
Amaru, 20, said the silence on issues such as police brutality and homelessness was “harmful” for Kalamazoo.
“It’s time for us to do more than watch, more than listen and even more than learn,” Amaru said. “We have to start practicing by actively engaging in political struggle which can take the form of anything, talking with and educating your community or joining an organization yourself.”
Amaru said Saturday’s protest was staged to be “the antithesis” of the silent memorial to Floyd last week, a black man killed by former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin. About 250 people attended the memorial on May 25, the first anniversary of Floyd’s death.
“We think there is nothing we need to be silent about,” he said. “More than ever, we need to be loud and speak out on these issues to truly achieve the change we seek in this city. “
Several speakers called Mayor David Anderson, who was in attendance, and said the mayor was not doing enough to help the townspeople.
“We hate having to hold people like this man (Anderson) accountable for things that we think are second nature to them because we prioritize humanity over money, buildings and profit,” King Ryan said. . “I don’t need (the mayor) to show up at a protest, I need (him) to do (his) job.”
Anderson, who recently announced his intention to run for re-election in Novembver, said he attended Saturday’s protest to show his support for community activists. He acknowledged the frustration of some residents who may feel there hasn’t been a significant change since Floyd’s death a year ago.
“A lot of institutions, including the city, are trying to make an effort to respond to this,” Anderson said. “It’s a work in progress, and I’m sure it seems frustratingly slow to a lot of people.”
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George Floyd remembers across Michigan on the anniversary of his murder
Activists march towards Grand Rapids Police Headquarters at rally seeking police ‘funding’