Prosecutor won’t charge those arrested in Kalamazoo protest clash

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The Kalamazoo County Prosecutor’s Office says it won’t move forward with any charges linked to a weekend clash between two groups of demonstrators.

The Proud Boys, classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group, had planned a rally in the city Saturday. Around 2 p.m., police say, the Proud Boys were met with counter-protesters near Water Street. Members of both groups were armed and violence erupted.

Police say 10 people were arrested, including an MLive reporter and a juvenile. The impeding traffic charge against the MLive reporter was dropped and police say the juvenile was released to parents.

At least five of the cases are being handled by Kalamazoo’s city attorney. Three were sent to Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting.

“People should have a right to protest, and whether it’s criticizing me or to say whatever bigotry they want to spout, they have a right to say it. It creates, unfortunately, situations like Saturday,” Getting told News 8 Monday.

Getting said his office has since denied all of the requests for charges.

“We’re looking at all the information that we have that’s available in the police reports that have been submitted by the agencies,” Getting said. “We’re making a decision based on that information whether there’s a reasonable probability of conviction. Do we have sufficient legal evidence that would justify us authorizing charges against someone?”

Getting did not provide information on who the charges were against — Proud Boys or counter-protesters. He also could not say if those arrested were Kalamazoo residents. A counter-protester told News 8 it seemed like a mix of both were arrested. 

Mayor David Anderson said during a Sunday press conference that he asked the city attorney to drop charges in five of the cases it is handling. News 8 reached out to both the mayor’s office and city attorney for an update Monday but did not hear back. 

Getting says the choice to move forward with charges will be fully at the discretion of the city attorney.