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Swartz Creek students, alumni organize protest Friday

Organizer Brendan Johnson addresses the group outside the historic Mary Crapo building in Swartz Creek.
Organizer Brendan Johnson addresses the group outside the historic Mary Crapo building in Swartz Creek.(ABC12 News)
Published: Jul. 10, 2020 at 11:21 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - The rain tried to dampen the moment, but it didn’t put a stop to the movement Friday. Dozens of supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement met in the north lot of Swartz Creek middle school for a protest.

It has been 46 days since the death of George Floyd, which sparked momentum in the movement. Across the world and in mid-Michigan people have protested against police brutality and racial injustice.

“I’ve grown up in this community, and this community has grown tremendously in the way that it treats its African American population,” said organizer Brendan Johnson. “But, I think that this community can go even further, and I think that this community can kind of be a staple of what a suburban community can and should be in regards to diversity.”

Protesters were met with some opposition as they exited the parking lot to Fairchild Street while carrying signs and chanting “Black lives matter.” Counter-protesters yelled “Trump 2020” and “All lives matter.” The march continued to Miller Road and stopped at the historic Mary Crapo School building.

“We are literally crying for change. It has to happen, and it starts now,” said longtime Swartz Creek middle school teacher Erin Francis.

“This group that we have here, you’re the ones that said, ‘I will not accept that,’” said Swartz Creek youth coach Edward Drew.

Students say Swartz Creek teachers and coaches like Francis and Drew have been advocates and voices for equality in their community. Drew said he would encourage black people in this community to voice their opinions but to listen as well.

“If we’re shutoff in explaining or listening to what they say, then they shut off as well, and that’s how it stays divided,” Drew said.

The protest was organized by rising high school senior Brendan Johnson and Swartz Creek High School graduate Abigail Hall.

“I’m excited to spread love and to show the community that we can be as one,” Hall said.

The Swartz Creek protest also welcomed the leader of Black Lives Matter-Flint and fellow student protest organizer from Carman-Ainsworth, Eeshyia King.

“There were tons of people here in support. We didn’t have too much opposition, and the opposition that we did get wasn’t rowdy or hard to handle, so everything went pretty well, and I’m genuinely happy with how it turned out,” Johnson said.

There’s another Black Lives Matter protest set for 1 p.m. Saturday at the Swartz Creek Civic Center.

Copyright 2020 WJRT. All rights reserved.

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