On March 26, 150 college students and supporters from around Michigan marched through downtown Lansing to the state Capitol to demand massive systemic changes across a variety of issues. The Michigan Student Power Network, a recently formed group, organized the event.
Protesters sought to deliver their list of demands to legislators, which included:
- The protection of Michigan waterways through decommission of Line 5 and a ban on fracking in Michigan;
- Undocumented people in Michigan should have access to in-state tuition at state universities and Michigan state drivers’ licenses;
- Return funding for public education, from kindergarten through college, to pre-[Gov.]Snyder levels, with adjustments for inflation;
- Elimination of the Educational Achievement Authority;
- Mandatory age-appropriate comprehensive sex education for middle school, high school and college focused on affirmative consent;
- Repeal right-to-work laws and guarantee a living wage with paid maternity, paternity and sick leave;
- Comprehensive legislation protecting African Americans from all violence, including by the police;
- Recognizing the failed and fraudulent nature of the “war on drugs,” we demand the intentional reduction of the incarcerated population through parole reforms and review of sentencing guidelines;
- Include gender identity and sexual orientation in all anti-discrimination laws;
- Nonpartisan redistricting policies to end gerrymandering.
Passionate speeches and poems were delivered by students on the Capitol steps and in the building’s rotunda after they marched inside. From a soulful call for strength from a transgender protester to a call for militant defiance of state violence against people of color from other speakers, the students showed intense solidarity with brothers and sisters suffering from all forms of capitalist oppression.
State Rep. Stephanie Chang (D) was the only legislator to meet with protesters.
Of course, the day couldn’t end without police agitation. Brittany Williamson, a 21-year-old Black woman, was detained for alleged “child endangerment.” Police threatened to call Social Services about her after she marched with her 2-year-old nephew alongside slow-moving traffic.
The March 26 Lansing State Journal wrote that Williamson reported that an “officer pushed her,” which caused her to be “knocked into her nephew and into a construction cone.” Police may file charges against her, pending the outcome of their investigation.
This act by police outraged protesters, one of whom took the notepad a cop was using. The cop then slammed the activist to the pavement right in front of this writer. The student, not resisting, screamed out in pain as the officer pulled his arm behind him, while surrounding protesters yelled in his defense. He is being charged with obstructing an officer, a felony.
As the action died down with chants of “Who Do You Serve?” it is clear that these types of police actions taken against protesters will only further radicalize the youth of the world.
Dominic is an organizer with Fight Imperialism, Stand Together (FIST).