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Proud Boys moves through downtown Kalamazoo on Saturday amid counter-protests

Proud Boys moves through downtown Kalamazoo on Saturday amid counter-protests. (WWMT/ Trisha McCauley)
Proud Boys moves through downtown Kalamazoo on Saturday amid counter-protests. (WWMT/ Trisha McCauley)
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Kalamazoo city leaders are expected to hold a press conference Sunday afternoon, to address Saturday's violent protests throughout the city.

Members of the Proud Boys group moved through downtown Kalamazoo Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020.

The group originally planned to hold a rally in Arcadia Creek Festival Place. After counter-protesters and police arrived at the location, the group began to move through the city.

The Proud Boys group arrived around 1:30 p.m., facing off with counterprotesters on Water Street in downtown Kalamazoo. The rally started with both groups shouting chants back and forth, but things quickly turned violent.

The initial clash just outside Arcadia Park lasted less than 10 minutes. Within that time, multiple fights broke out, bottles were thrown, people were pepper sprayed and some were using street signs as weapons.

An ambulance arrived on scene and multiple people were walking around injured.

Kalamazoo police officers arrived on scene about seven minutes into the violence. Officers told people to clear the area.

Newschannel 3's Hannah Knowles provided a live update from downtown Kalamazoo.

The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety began making arrests around 2:30 p.m.

Newschannel 3 Photographer Manny Revilla captured footage of the rally and counter-protests.

Original story: The Anti-Defamation League of Michigan said the Proud Boys, an alt-right hate group, known for violence was set to host a rally Saturday in downtown Kalamazoo, while a West Michigan church is planning to protest against them.

At 10:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 14, a Vigilant Anti-Fascist Action posted on social media that Proud Boy members from out of town were on their way to Kalamazoo. That same group first posted about the pro-fascism rally in Kalamazoo on July 27, 2020.

The Southern Poverty Law Center lists the Proud Boys as a hate group because of what the center says is the group’s frequent denigration of Muslims and Islam, misogynistic rhetoric, and its role as a gateway to other extremist groups, said Cassie Miller, the center’s senior research analyst.

A man who identifies as a Proud Boys member told News Channel 3 on Aug. 13 that the group is planning a peaceful gathering in Kalamazoo to support police officers and denounce Antifa.

Kalamazoo city leaders said the Proud Boys have not reserved any park space or requested a permit to host an event in the city. Kalamazoo Deputy City Manager Jeff Chamberlain said you don’t necessarily need a permit to protest in the city.

First Congregational Church has reserved Arcadia Creek Festival Place for a unity rally at 2.p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 15, the same time and place the Proud Boys said they will rally.

Organizers said it is a counter protest against the Proud Boys. Pastor Nathan Dannison said they have to stand up for their fellow community members.

“It’s up to the rest of the community to stand up and say these are people and we’re not going to stand by while you come to bash them or do violence to innocent people," Dannison said.

Chamberlain released a statement from the city Thursday saying Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety is monitoring the situation and would be ready to respond if necessary.

"Bigotry and hatred in any form are not acceptable in Kalamazoo – nor is violence – and the City is prepared to act quickly if necessary," the statement said.

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