“They shoot us down, we shut ’em down!”
This was the chant heard by a group of about 200 protesters who braved frigid temperatures Monday evening to march and shut down Michigan Avenue in Dearborn from Greenfield west to the headquarters of the Dearborn Police Department to protest the shooting death of 36-year-old Detroit resident Kevin Matthews on December 23rd. Matthews was killed by a Dearborn police officer.
“It’s been real hard and real sad for losing my son for losing my son the way I lost him, and I just want justice for him. He didn’t deserve what he got. They took a loved one from me, they took my child,” said Valerie Johnson, Matthews’ mother, as she spoke to reporters and a crowd of approximately 200 marchers and reporters before the group shut down Michigan Avenue.
Johnson said that she has not been in touch with the Dearborn Police, and said she had learned nothing about her son’s death.
“I hurt everyday, all day, and I’m going to hurt all the time, because they took a loved one away from me, they took my child,” she said.
The marchers were members of Matthews family and the Southeastern Michigan Chapter of the National Action Network, which took to the streets to protest Matthews’ death.
“The first words from the chief of (the Dearborn) police is about his misdemeanor background. Who does that?” asked Charles Williams, the president of the Michigan Chapter of the National Action Network, the group responsible for organizing the march. “That’s a speeding ticket.”
“We are calling on the state police and the federal investigation to get involved with this. We trust Wayne County prosecutor Kim Worthy,” said Williams.
Curtis Bundles, vice president of the Eastern/Western Wayne chapter of the National Action Network, said the intention of the march was to shut down the Dearborn Police Station.
“We gonna shut it down,” he said.
Bundles has participated in four marches in protest of police shootings.
Dearborn Chief of Police Ronald Haddad said that all information about the shooting has been turned over to Wayne County Prosecutor Kim Worthy, and that a criminal investigation is pending.
“The City of Detroit and the homicide task force is investigating and ultimately the Wayne County Prosecutor will continue the investigation.
“It’s important to know that we have about 70 rallies a year for all kinds of protests. We are real high on the First Amendment here in Dearborn. I have four sites in Dearborn that protestors can protest at that do not require a permit,”
including the police department and areas around the station.
Haddad said that when Osama bin Laden was killed there was a celebration that was held on one of those sites.
“We have had Jesse Jackson and the Archbishop of Detroit demonstrations of support for a certain cause. When Jesse was here, he led a protest for saving the UAW, a protest with 4,000 people.”
The march started at the Kroger store at the corner of Michigan and Greenfield Avenues in Dearborn. Marchers headed west on Michigan chanting “No justice, no peace!” as the police department closed the streets for the march. The marchers stopped at the Dearborn Police Department Headquarters and held a small rally where members of the family addressed the audience.
“At a time when we should be popping bottles and celebrating, we were crying and closing caskets. A time when we should open our presents up, we had to think about the arrangements to be made”, said Williams at the rally.
Valerie Johnson addressed the crowd. “They shot him down for nothing, on his way to see his mother. I want justice for my child.”