While police turn on protesters in Detroit, across the state a hate group known for violence was left to sow chaos.
KALAMAZOO, MI — Violent protests by a hate group rocked Kalamazoo Aug. 15 as the west Michigan city played host to out-of-town demonstrators affiliated with the Proud Boys.
The Proud Boys are designated by Southern Poverty Law Cente as a hate group, and are known for their white nationalist, anti-Muslim, and mysoginistic rhetoric.
“We do not support the hate mongering of the Proud Boys that came here to Kalamazoo,” said Mayor David Anderson.
Kalamazoo’s First Congregational Church held a vigil at the site of the protest to counter the Proud Boys, and the clash between the groups escalated to physical violence.
“The Proud Boys, they not only have hatred for Jewish people and Muslim people, but they’re also very hateful of anybody who doesn’t look like them or act like them,” said the Rev. Nathan Dannison, pastor of the First Congregational Church.
An unspecified number of people were arrested, according to the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety, but reports from WWMT about ten arrests.
“A fight occurred, people were fighting, and that’s when we stepped in,” KDPS Assistant Chief Vernon Coakley said.
Some fighting occurred before police ordered the crowds to disperse. WWMT reports also allege Proud Boys protesters used pepper spray on the counter protesters. This is consistent with a larger violent disposition among the Proud Boys as a movement.
“They beat people. They hit people. We had to fight back,” Kalamazoo resident Kevin Wardlaw told WWMT. “Two police officers over here earlier today just watching. All of a sudden them nobody guys come. Maced me all in the face. Where are the police at?”
According to WWMT, it took five to seven minutes for police, already on the scene, to intervene in the violence. The Proud Boys were present in the city and protesting as a vaguely-defined “support the police” demonstration.
While the idea of violent protests has been used to justify the deployment of federal agents in cities nationwide, the Proud Boys did not spark such a reaction from President Donald Trump.
However, Trump is sending federal agents to Detroit to quell gun violence, not to address protests as has been the rationale used in other cities like Portland and Milwaukee. In Portland, in particular, the activities of these agents have been deeply controversial and included random arrests of people protesting police brutality.
That leaves the Proud Boys’s violent protests in Kalamazoo outside the scope of the federal agents deploying to Michigan. Meanwhile, Detroit will see 42 federal agents with wide authority to act in Detroit to quell gun violence.