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Kalamazoo County commissioners question police response to protesters

Twitter user: @haylerss5 / https://bit.ly/305g6iH

Some Kalamazoo County commissioners are questioning the way police have responded to incidents this week.

Kalamazoo and neighboring Portage imposed a 7 p.m. curfew Tuesday night after vandalism in downtown Kalamazoo Monday.

Police dispersed a crowd in Kalamazoo Tuesday night with tear gas after protesters ignored the citywide curfew.

But County Commission Vice-Chair Tracy Hall says that’s not the solution.

"We shouldn't be using tear gas," Hall said. "We shouldn't be using militaristic things."

National Guard units helped enforce the curfew in Kalamazoo after the County declared a local "state of emergency." Kalamazoo police say there were “suspicious” fires that damaged five houses. Most were vacant, but an 84-year-old resident was displaced from her home of 40 years.

Kalamazoo County Commissioner Stephanie Moore says the community can't heal without taking on the underlying causes that led to protests about police brutality.

"The time is now. My phone was blowing up today: 'Stephanie, Stephanie, Stephanie, they're rioting, they're looting!' I don't care. You know why? Because nobody has said why people are responding the way that they are," Moore said.

Moore also says the County's government needs to get its own house in order and deal with institutional racism.

Wednesday morning Kalamazoo County commissioners said they'll review use of force policies for local law enforcement. Kalamazoo Sheriff Rick Fuller says officers get extensive training. And he says every use of force is investigated.

"And it has a review and ultimately is found either to be a good use or a bad use, and people have been disciplined throughout my entire career," Fuller said.

Kalamazoo's city-wide curfew is in place for the next six days. Unless they're going to work or getting medical care, people aren't allowed to drive, walk, run or stand on sidewalks, roads or other public places.

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