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Police chief dispels rumors over planned protests in Hastings this weekend

Posted at 9:53 AM, Aug 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-14 19:43:17-04

HASTINGS — A demonstration is planned for this weekend in Hastings, but rumors about the event swirling on social media have people on edge, but the police chief there tells us those worries are likely overblown.

It's called Unity for Hastings and it's planned at the county courthouse this Sunday.

People plan to gather to protest against social injustice, but there are posts online claiming the group has much more destructive.

Chief Pratt says there's no truth to those posts, but does worry about the tension they might cause.

"My message to anybody who wants to come out is just respect other people and their opinions," said Pratt. "Everybody can get along and this event is not going to be a big issue here in the city of Hastings, at all. Again, we`'ve been in constant communication with the organizers, we will be here in Hastings on Sunday just to keep our eyes on everything that`s going on. Please come, please participate, but be respectful of others."

The chief says it's meant to be a family-friendly event.

Organizers agree.

“Sunday just is really going to be a time to come together as a community,” Miguel Arjona Rodriguez said.

The event is put on by two Hastings natives, with many other people from town expected to speak.

“We figured it was a good idea, because just a lot of talk going around, in Michigan, about BLM and the protests that I’ve been too.. in Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids, said it’s important for us to get out in smaller communities and talk about this type of stuff,” organizer Brad Smith said.

They say they want to start a conversation on how the community they love can be better than it already is.

“This is by far..not a violent protest. This isn’t a protest at all. This is going to be a unity event. To bring the community together. Continue to bring us together, and work between differences, between rumors, and stereotypes,” Arjona Rodriguez said.

Masks and social distancing will be required. If more than 100 people show up, they will end the event. It is being live-streamed for all those who would like to attend virtually.

Organizers also say they've worked with the police department and shared their intentions, which they say are to start a peaceful conversation in Hastings.