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Police and protesters come together for peaceful demonstration in Allegan

Posted at 4:56 PM, Jun 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-06 23:48:52-04

ALLEGAN, Mich. — Cities all across the country have been protesting the death of George Floyd. Now, smaller communities like Allegan are making their voices heard after a peaceful protest on Saturday.

"Someone had to do it," said co-organizer Elvin Quinones-Walker, "nobody was doing it, we were all sitting on the sidelines waiting."

On Saturday, over 100 people came out to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

"I think it sets Allegan apart and shows the more progressive side," said fellow organizer, Eddie Quinones-Walker, "we're a rural area so people may think it's just a conservative, farming community. What we have here is this whole group of super vibrant people supporting equal human rights."

Unlike many other protests around the country, protesters and police officers worked together to keep the afternoon peaceful.

"For us in law enforcement, there are problems," said Allegan County sheriff, Frank Baker, "when those problems come to light, it makes all of us look back. It creates issues for all of us around the United States and it can tear apart a community, that's the last thing we want to see."

Baker and Allegan police chief Jay Gibson helped provide pizza and water to the protesters to keep them comfortable during the three hour protest.

"I love it," Gibson said, "we need to move the needle. We need to do better as communities, as police departments, I'm very supportive of what they're doing. I'm glad they're here, and I'm hoping to be a part of it, I hope they enjoy themselves and feel safe while doing it."

Even in a small town like Allegan, the support for change was evident with hundreds of vehicles honking as they drove by the demonstrators.

"Silence is complacency," added Elvin Quinones-Walker, "we have to speak up and come together as a community. It's important even as a small community that we speak up instead of seeing people be a part of the movement."

And together, the demonstrators and police force both feel like progress was made on Saturday.

"We support the efforts of the group and we're here to participate," Sheriff Baker added, "we just want today's protest to be productive, we want to have good dialogue and let people express their concerns, and address those issues."

The organizers also add that this will not be the last social justice demonstration in the city of Allegan.

"If we can show that our community can stand up against racism, even with our police force behind us, it will make us that much stronger," said Eddie. "We can make Allegan an example for other small, rural communities."