Kzoo city commissioners review response to weekend rally

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — City commissioners in Kalamazoo are responding to violence that happened at a Proud Boys rally over the weekend.  

Much of the discussion has centered on police preparations and response to the group, which is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center

Violence erupted Saturday afternoon as the Proud Boys clashed with counter-protesters. 

Kalamazoo City Manager Jim Ritsema answered commissioners’ questions, saying Public Safety Chief Karianne Thomas was not available to brief the commission as she did following protests in June. 

Commission Chris Praedel asked why it took police six to seven minutes to respond to the violent clash. 

Ritsema said officers were spaced at various locations and that the situation was fluid because they did not know where the Proud Boys were going. He said they had a strategy beforehand and will be reviewing whether officers should have been staged differently.  He said police should have not have arrested people from Kalamazoo and should have arrested Proud Boys.

“The goal is to protect the community and restore order,” Ritsema said. “They executed on that plan. I guess in hindsight being more anticipatory about the actions, we could have been maybe deployed better, but it’s really a case that we’re going to move forward with learning from the event.” 

Ritsema says the chief has apologized for the arrests including an arrest of an MLive journalist who was streaming news coverage on Facebook Live. 

No Proud Boys have been arrested, but police are reviewing video of the rally and charges against members could be filed. 

The city attorney and the county prosecutor say all the charges have been dropped for everyone arrested this weekend.  

Vice Mayor Patrese Griffin says she doesn’t understand the strategy used, given the history of violence by the Proud Boys.

She said police should not have used a similar strategy as it did with protests in June.  

“When you have a group that is known for a history of violence that response should be accordingly and it really concerns me and troubles me that there was a response made that was based on a situation where the parties that were going to be present didn’t have that history of violence,” Griffin said. 

Ritsema says KDPS will be reviewing the events along with the arrests that were made.  

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