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Protests continue in Michigan after Ferguson grand jury announcement

Kate Wells
Michigan Radio

READERS - PLEASE NOTE: This story was written in the afternoon of 11/25 - and is about the protests that happened during the day. This story was published before the larger protests occurred in the evening.

Small protests continue around Michigan today after news broke last night that a St. Louis County grand jury won’t indict Darren Wilson, a white police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown, an unarmed black man in Ferguson, Missouri.  

Monday night saw rallies in East Lansing and Detroit, while today students protested on the campuses of the University of Michigan, Western Michigan University and Michigan State University.

In Ann Arbor, U of M student Danni Hayes holds up a sign reading: “A badge is not a license to kill, march to make Martin Luther King’s dream real.”    

“No one is safe anymore when we have police brutality,” she says.

“Even if you take race out of it. Like imagine if that was your mother, brother, friend. You would want justice for them,” she says.

“I do not want to believe that it was a race situation, and I try not to bring the race card out. So I look at it as, no matter what the race of Michael Brown, his people would want just regardless because he was an unarmed person.”

Hays says she isn’t sure how much a role race played in the fatal shooting, but she says her own college experience is different than her white friends'.

“I would definitely say so, just because of the stares. So many stares that my white friends wouldn’t get when they were out. Or just in class, it’s like, you get so many stares and I feel like only minority students have that. People just stare at you all the time, walking around, sitting in class,” she says.

“Like I was just sitting in class and it felt like the two girls were just staring at me for the whole hour and a half. And I’m just like, why are they starting at me? I am like the only black person in the majority of my classes. Except for my women’s studies class, and there’s only 20 [students in the whole class.]”

Liz Kramer lives in St. Louis, Mo., but she’s visiting her parents in Ann Arbor this week and came out to join the 20 or so students protesting on the Michigan campus.

“I saw some of the pictures out of New York and LA and Chicago last night. I think that it’s hard for it to be so personal as it is in St. Louis for us, but I think in other cities, everyone has their own story.”

“We’ve been living in St. Louis, and last night on my block they were tear-gassing my friends. And that was just so immediate, I needed a bigger perspective than what was happening on my block and what my neighbors are arguing about.”  

More protests are planned this evening in Jackson, Detroit and Ypsilanti. 

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.