Levin Calls for Withdrawal of Felony Charges Against Peaceful Protestors in Macomb County

Photo courtesy of Anna van Schaap

October 27, 2020

WARREN, MI - Congressman Andy Levin, who represents much of Macomb County in Congress, released the following statement calling on Interim Macomb Prosecutor Jean Cloud to drop felony charges against people who engaged in nonviolent demonstrations in Shelby Township: 

“I’ve been inspired by the response to the national crisis of racial justice and policing in Macomb County. This summer, I marched alongside thousands of Macomb residents from all walks of life, mobilizing peacefully to seek change. The County Sheriff and Sterling Heights and Clinton Township closed the biggest surface street in the county and made everyone feel welcome. That is why I am so disturbed to see recent developments in Shelby Township, where a peaceful demonstration was met with disproportionate force.

“This summer, Shelby Township Police Chief Robert Shelide published racist and disturbing statements on social media that would result in termination in most large companies, nonprofits and governments.  He also showed little remorse for his statements, saying they had been taken out of context and misunderstood. Instead of firing him, the township board decided to give Chief Shelide a brief suspension without pay and require him to go through cultural sensitivity and de-escalation training before he returned. Unfortunately, what was documented about his department’s response to peaceful protests on October 24 in news coverage, photos, videos, and first-person accounts did not look like the result of de-escalation training, but purposeful escalation instead. 

“The police turned out in force with riot gear to meet 100 peaceful protesters. That’s not de-escalation. They dealt with protestors with aggressive takedowns, using such force that a protestor ended up in the hospital with a concussion. That’s not de-escalation. They continued even once the protestors returned to the sidewalk. That’s not de-escalation. They sought felony charges. That’s definitely not de-escalation. As a result of all of this, I’m concerned about tensions continuing to rise unnecessarily in Macomb County, just when we seemed to be heading towards more racial justice and understanding. 

“As an elected representative in Macomb County, it is my duty to speak up on these fundamental questions of racial justice and policing and to take part in a process of true de-escalation. I am calling on Interim Macomb County Prosecutor Jean Cloud to drop the felony charges as an important first step in this process.” 

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