Detroit avoids violence; Grand Rapids chief speaks with protesters

Police officers line up in front of protesters in front of the Detroit Police Safety Headquarters in Detroit on Sunday, May 31, 2020, during a protest over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. (David Guralnick/The Detroit News via AP)

DETROIT (AP) — The mayor of Detroit praised police, residents and clergy Monday for preventing the violence that has marred other cities during protests over police abuses and the death of George Floyd.

“We decided before we turn to the National Guard we’re going to turn to each other,” Mayor Mike Duggan said.

Meanwhile, the police chief in Grand Rapids spoke to protesters while standing behind a line of National Guard members. Eric Payne, who is black, said “black lives matter,” although he declined to cross the line to get closer.

“I hear you loud and clear. Most importantly, I think law enforcement is hearing you,” Payne said.

More protests were held around the state. People chanted “I can’t breathe” at Central Michigan University, and “What do we want? Peace” in the streets of Marquette.

In Detroit, hundreds of people were arrested, many for curfew violations, during weekend demonstrations, and police used tear gas to disperse crowds. Yet Detroit has not experienced ransacked businesses, burning cars and broken windows seen in smaller Michigan cities, such as Grand Rapids and Lansing.

At one point, Deputy Chief Todd Bettison kneeled in response to a request from protesters who also took a knee. Lines of officers stood behind him.

“I’ve never been so proud of a man in my life,” Duggan said.