Wednesday, August 5, 2020

'Allow something positive to grow from it': Community gathers to clean up Lansing

June 1, 2020

The protests at the Michigan Capitol on Sunday night left many things.

Among the shattered windows, burnt-up car and tear gas canisters to be cleaned up, there was a spot on the sidewalk at the intersection of Washington Avenue and Allegan Street where “F--- 12" was spray painted onto. A Lansing artist stopped at that message Monday to paint flowers intertwining with the words.

“The idea is not to cover it up, but to allow something positive to grow from it," Ryan Holmes said.

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After Sunday morning’s peaceful protest against police brutality ended, things escalated to the point of police officers descending into downtown Lansing in riot gear and releasing tear gas. Multiple arrests, thousands of dollars in damages and a curfew that lasted from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. resulted from that night.

The following morning, community members gathered to aid in clean-up efforts. Their message was one of unity, much like the protest at the Michigan Capitol the day before. They came as families, church groups, activists or just as individuals looking to help their community. Organizers of the protest were among those there.

Joe Mead, executive team leader for Mount Hope Church, said he brought a group to the clean-up because he felt his community needed help.

“People matter of all races and colors created ... we need to come together,” Mead said. “We thought we’d just do what we do and we pray, love, serve — so we came down here to serve our community and put things back together and hopefully we can resolve the issues in a peaceful, loving way.”

The groups participating in the efforts fixed and boarded windows, swept up debris left from a building where glass was shattered and worked to remove spray paint. Cleaning supplies and water bottles were handed out to those participating.

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Lansing artist Ryan Holmes, who intertwined flowers in the protester's message, didn’t cover it up. That wasn’t his intent.

“I came as a creative and an artist," he said. "My intent was to just help the city move forward using art. I’m not working at an extent to get rid of the original image, and when people do come, it's actually drawing more attention to it. Hopefully, instead, it leaves people with more of a positive message and really makes them think about why both statements are important.”

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