FLINT, Mich. – In a gesture of solidarity, a Michigan sheriff joined a crowd demanding action against police brutality and marched side by side with the peaceful protesters.
Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson was caught on video joining the crowd that was marching in Flint Township in honor of George Floyd, the black man who died after an officer knelt on his neck during an arrest in Minneapolis.
Before the march began, Swanson addressed the demonstrators and said his officers wanted to be with them.
“I took my helmet off, laid the batons down,” said Swanson to cheers. “I want to make this a parade, not a protest.”
The sheriff wanted to make the point that his officers cared for their community and they understood many wanted to have their voices heard.
“These cops love you. That cop over there hugs people,” he said. “So, you tell us what we need to do.”
The protesters carried signs and chanted as they made their way by foot and in cars through the community’s business district. They then marched to police headquarters, where they demonstrated briefly. While there, police and protesters talked and bumped fists.
The peaceful protest lasted several hours.
"We can't forget on all our police cars across the nation it says, 'protect and serve.' That means all people, that means all people deserve the same dignity,” Swanson told WJRT. “If you can't call out what's wrong, try to make it right. And that's the magic we saw tonight. Nobody's arrested, nobody got hurt. This is how it's supposed to be.”
The officer caught on video kneeling on Floyd's neck was charged with the 46-year-old murder and manslaughter on Friday. The other officers involved have not been charged at this time. Many are calling for them to be prosecuted as well.
WJRT and CNN contributed to this report.