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Peaceful protest against police brutality leads into night of unrest in downtown Detroit

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Following a script seemingly set the day before, protests in downtown Detroit and in many cities nationwide began Saturday afternoon with crowds of peaceful marchers voicing …
Following a script seemingly set the day before, protests in downtown Detroit and in many cities nationwide began Saturday afternoon with crowds of peaceful marchers voicing chants about racial justice.
But after dark, those crowds were less peaceful. In Detroit, Friday night’s protest had become tense and led to arrests, and it even involved a fatal shooting, although that was later determined to be unrelated to the protesting.
Saturday night was worse. Participants threw rocks and fireworks at police, refusing to disperse until hundreds of officers converged to use tear gas and make dozens of arrests, according to reporters at the scene.
Although the protesters’ numbers began to diminish by 11 p.m., a hard core persisted in moving throughout the downtown, spraying graffiti, urinating and defecating on store windows, and keeping police on edge until well past 1 a.m. Sunday, according to reporters at the scene. Officers ultimately fired rubber bullets at some hold-outs, reporters said.
Detroit’s protests, on Friday and Saturday, were among numerous demonstrations in recent days held nationwide and around Michigan, sparked by the death of 46-year-old George Floyd, a black man whose death after a white police officer knelt on his neck during an arrest Monday in Minneapolis was caught on video.
Yet, Saturday night’s unrest in Detroit ultimately seemed little to do with racial justice and more about anarchy and malicious property destruction, according to a team of Free Press reporters and photographers. The story was much the same in dozens of American cities, including Grand Rapids, where buildings and a row of parked cars burned out of control Saturday night. In contrast, a march on Saturday in Flint Township, a low-income area just south of the city of Flint, was a peaceful gathering where police marched alongside civilians.
In Detroit, there’d been a turning point Saturday at dusk, witnesses said. At around 8 p.m., several black protest leaders had used bullhorns to urge a crowd gathered on Michigan Avenue at 3rd Street, estimated at more than 1,000 peaceful demonstrators, to “go home — be safe.” An hour later, as darkness fell, a din of shouting and a pounding drum echoed through downtown streets as a seemingly different group surged through Greektown, swelling rapidly by the hundreds, reporters said.
One apparent ring leader was spotted leaping from the group to spray-paint on a garage door “ACAB” – code for “All cops are bastards.

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