KALAMAZOO, Mich. — As soon as Stephanie Moore saw a man screaming at the police during Saturday’s protest, and then saw him spit at their feet, she immediately stepped in and started yelling at him.
“Back up. Back up,” Moore shouted in the middle of the street standing between the man and the police. “I’m running this (expletive). I’m the (expletive) that’s mad. I’ve got a black son.”
Another protester recorded Moore rebuking the man.
She told FOX 17 during an interview on Tuesday that she did it because she knew what Kalamazoo police could do and that the people there don’t need to see and experience anymore trauma and violence.
“It was for the safety of our community. We had young women and girls and children that were there. And the last thing I wanted to see was violence erupt in our community,” said Moore, who's also a Kalamazoo County commissioner. “If I can do anything fighting for my community especially for this city, I’m definitely going to do it.”
Moore and a group of pastors in the city spoke out against rioting and violence on Monday after rioters damaged downtown Grand Rapids over the weekend.
“I say raise your voice,” Moore said. “I say raise your fists. Demand equity. Demand equality. Demand real solutions for us.”
However, police said late Monday night a group of people came to downtown Kalamazoo and damaged storefronts along Michigan Avenue and on the Kalamazoo Mall.
“Do not burn down your city,” Moore said. “Do not destroy your city. We need to save our community. So many people worked so hard, not even earning a living wage to establish the things that they have.”
Other people that night laid in the middle of the street as their form of protest. Kalamazoo police used tear gas to remove them, a tactic Moore denounced.
“We have some folks that are so passionate and so angry, all they need is a little bit. Why should it come from the people that are here to serve and protect us?” Moore said. “They need training.”
Moore said police should receive training at the police academy at Kalamazoo Valley Community College. The cadets their undergo racial healing training, having conversations about face relations with city leaders, many of whom are people of color.
Ultimately, she said what’s going to bring "real relief" is institutional change by addressing systemic racism and how it’s affected people who have been "left out or left behind."
“I got a phone call this early this morning from Congressman Fred Upton, who said, 'Stephanie, what should I do?'” Moore said. “That’s where I want to spend my time at. I need you to understand that we want real change and not chump change.”