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Police chief: Flint protesters were in the road; city not aware of plans for march

(WJRT)
Published: Oct. 2, 2018 at 4:04 PM EDT
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(10/2/2018) - Flint Police Chief Timothy Johnson said his department was not notified that protesters planned to march along Dort Highway on Tuesday morning.

If he had known, Johnson said police would have provided an escort for the group organized by the Fight for $15 who were demonstrating to call for union rights for fast food workers.

"We would have been prepared if we would have known what was going on," he said. "With the rally as it happened, we was not aware of it. We were not brought in beforehand to make any kind of plans on how to let it roll out."

About 100 people started marching from the area of Dort Highway and Lippincott Boulevard northbound toward the McDonald's restaurant just south of Lapeer Road around 7 a.m.

Johnson said many of the protesters were walking on Dort Highway and crossing the road dressed in dark clothing before dawn when a maroon pickup truck pulled out of a driveway and barreled into the back of the group.

The truck then slid into a Consumers Energy truck.

Police say eight or nine people were taken to area hospitals for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries. Most were released later Tuesday.

Only two of the injured marchers live in Flint. Five others were bused in from Detroit while one other came from the SEIU national office in Washington, said union President Mary Kay Henry.

"I was surprised, but the first thing you want to do is stop and take a moment and pray that everything is OK," Flint Mayor Karen Weaver said of her reaction to news of the crash.

She believed she was going to a rally and a press conference to increase the minimum wage. So it took her and police by surprise when protestors started marching in the street.

Democrat gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer was at the front of the group when the crash occurred. She was not injured.

Johnson said the incident does not appear to be intentional and that the pickup truck driver seemed pretty shaken up at the scene. The truck driver was not injured.

Police administered a field sobriety test to the truck driver, which he passed. He was not arrested and no charges were filed against him Tuesday while the investigation continued.

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