A sheriff in a Michigan county took an impressive step amid the massive George Floyd-inspired rallies, laying down his protective gear and marching side by side with protesters. His unorthodox gesture was met with glee.

Crowds of protesters had been amassing outside the Flint Township police station since earlier in the day, demanding justice for the slain Minnesotan George Floyd, and venting anger at police brutality. Shortly afterwards, Genesee County sheriff Chris Swanson turned up at the rally, engaging in a candid talk with those demonstrating.

“We want to be with you, I took my helmet off and laid the batons down. I want to make this a parade, not a protest,” he passionately tells people, assuring his officers won’t go tough on them.

“These cops love you, this cop over here hugs people,” Swanson is heard, in footage that went viral.
He then shouts repeatedly “Let’s go, let’s move,” joining the march.

Law enforcement’s decisions about how to engage with demonstrators can make all the difference.Flint, Michigan—> The County Sheriff joined a group of largely Black protesters in their march for justice.

Swanson walked with jubilant protesters along the streets, which seemed free of any violence. As the march came to a close, he told the crowds that “police condemn what happened in Minneapolis, it’s not who we are.”

“We want to be with you. I took my helmet off and laid the batons down. I want to make this a parade not a protest.” Respect for Flint, Twp, Michigan. Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson.

The news comes on the back of multiple reports of demonstrators engaged in riots and looting elsewhere across the United States, and of police employing aggressive tactics to quell the unrest.

In other parts of Michigan state, though, the situation wasn’t that peaceful. Officers resorted to the use of rubber bullets and tear gas as rioters attacked them with firecrackers and set police vehicles on fire.

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