Kalamazoo mayor calls for community ‘self-police’ as curfew dropped

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The city of Kalamazoo has lifted its curfew after one night, though the initial order issuing it said it may be in effect for a week.

The curfew was established Tuesday after vandals damaged several businesses in downtown Kalamazoo. But peaceful protesters violated it Tuesday evening, refusing to leave even after the assistant police chief pleaded with them to do so. Police ultimately fired tear gas to get people to take off and a couple were arrested.

The city of Kalamazoo said that with the lifting of the curfew, the Michigan National Guard and Michigan State Police no longer be set up downtown.

“I am assuming that we can come back together and self-police our neighborhoods and our downtown,” Mayor David Anderson said in a Wednesday video posted online. “We not only tolerate protests, we encourage protests. We encourage hearing voices. And the way that we can be most helpful — and the city of Kalamazoo and public safety is committed to this — is that our involvement will be for the protection if protesters.”

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The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety will have an increased presence around the city. They’ll be focusing on watching out for fires at vacant buildings, and asked residents to keep their eye out, too.

Late Tuesday night, there were two fires at vacant structures in the Northside neighborhood spread to other homes.

One of the vacant buildings that was destroyed was set to be turned into apartments for low-income households. The city said it’s now working on a plan to create those eight units somewhere in the neighborhood.

In a Wednesday release, the city said it welcomed lawful protesters.

“We want to get through this so we can get to action and take that raw emotion and convert it to action that will change lives and change systems,” City Manager Jim Ritsema said in the online video. “Our goal is not to stop protests, but really to stop by the damage and destruction that are caused by some that attend the protests. Our understanding is that there are groups that come in to these protests to cause chaos.”