A violent confrontation happened Sunday night on Detroit’s southwest side.
Video from the scene captured a Detroit police SUV driving through a crowd, knocking several people to the ground.
USA Today reports what had been a mostly peaceful protest took a dangerous turn late Sunday when a Detroit police officer drove an SUV through a crowd of protesters after they surrounded the vehicle and began pounding on it.
With the overhead lights flashing, the officer behind the wheel gunned the accelerator, sending protesters flying onto the pavement while others scurried out of the way as the vehicle lurched through the crowd. At one point, the SUV jerked to a stop and then sped away with at least two protesters on the hood, throwing them to the ground a dozen yards later.
One of the men thrown from the hood clutched his leg and limped after he stood up. The other man appeared unharmed. Both men continued to march back to Patton Park.
Jae Bass, 24, of Detroit, who was one of the men thrown from the hood, said police attempted to block the marchers from returning to Patton Park. He tried to lead the protesters through the roadblock and some of the police vehicles began moving.
Bass said he tried to stand in front of the police SUV to stop it before it endangered protesters.
“In response to that, he just floored it,” Bass said. “He went super fast. Me and a couple of other organizers that were with me, just went flinging off. We went flying off. He ran over a couple people’s arms, feet. He ran over her phone. I think I was the last person on the car. I was just holding onto the car. I could feel him speeding up and then he did one of these and he flinged me off the car.”
Detroit police spokeswoman Sgt. Nicole Kirkwood said late Sunday the rear window of the police vehicle was smashed in. The department is investigating the actions of both the protesters and the officer who was driving, she said.
The clash happened about 9:30 p.m. on Vernor Highway west of Waterman Street. Marchers had begun the day with a rally in Patton Park. They marched up Vernor to Clark Park. They were marching back to Patton Park when the clash happened.
The rally and march brought together a diverse group of civil rights and other organizations who urged solidarity in the fight against systemic racism, police brutality, deportations, evictions and water shut-offs.
“It’s an event that has been organized through a coalition of various organizations,” said Tristan Taylor of Detroit Will Breathe, who led previous marches in Detroit. “This is us, acting on what we’d said we were going to do as an organization.”
About 300 protesters began the rally in Patton Park, though the crowd thinned as the group marched up West Vernor. Detroit police mostly watched from a distance.
One tense moment came just before 7 p.m. Two protesters scaled a Spanish language billboard recruiting people to join the Detroit police force. They covered it with a hand-drawn sign reading: “Abolish ICE, Defund Police, No cops in schools.” They secured it with zip ties.
The crowd roared its approval as the sign unfurled and then surrounded two Detroit police officers who exited their vehicle to talk to protesters. The marchers shouted and yelled into a bullhorn: “Whose streets? Our Streets. Whose city? Our city.”
The officers stood for a minute, before one of them began speaking into the radio from his hip, pressing the radio up against his ear to hear over the shouts. When the officers returned to their vehicle to leave, protesters danced and chanted “Na, na, na, na; hey, hey; goodbye.”