In the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Monday, protests calling for an end to racial injustice have arisen around the U.S. Some of those protests have turned violent, with brutal clashes between police officers and protesters dominating the headlines as a result. However, in Flint, Michigan, some officers put down their weapons and peacefully joined a march calling for an end to police brutality, as well as justice for Floyd.
As reported by TMZ on Sunday, Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson elected to engage protesters in respectful conversation and show support for their cause. He and several deputies then joined them on a march to the Flint Township’s police station.
The national outcry was ignited when footage of the arrest attempt that led to Floyd’s untimely death went viral following the incident. In the video, MPD Officer Derek Chauvin, a white man, was shown kneeling on Floyd, a black man, with his knee pressed into Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. Despite Floyd’s pleas for help and cries that he couldn’t breathe, Chauvin continued to press into him, doing so for several minutes after he had become unresponsive.
Floyd was eventually placed on a gurney and was carried away; he was pronounced dead at a local hospital shortly thereafter. Chauvin, meanwhile, was later brought into custody on charges of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter and is currently being held at the Ramsey County jail in St. Paul, Minnesota.
As reported previously by The Inquisitr, Chauvin is believed to be on suicide watch.
For his part, Swanson condemned Chauvin’s actions and the events that led to Floyd’s death as he spoke to protesters prior to their march. He also said that he was on-site only to ensure that protesters would be heard before joining them on their march.
“The only reason we’re here is to make sure you have a voice. That’s it. Don’t think for a second that [Chauvin] represents who these cops are from all over the county and around the station. We go out there to help people, not do that nonsense,” he said. “We want to be with you all, for real, so I took the helmet off and laid the batons down. I want to make this a parade, not a protest.”
Per TMZ, the sheriff and his deputies had joined the crowd assembled in a Target and remained with them for more than two hours as they marched. Video footage of the event showed officers and protesters embracing and talking to one another as they moved. The crowd was reportedly met with deputies in riot gear at the station, but the proceedings remained a peaceful affair.