LANSING, Mich. — A coalition of activists led by Black Lives Matter organizers protested Saturday afternoon in Lansing, Michigan for Anthony Hulon, a white man who died nearly a year ago in the Lansing jail.
“What’s his name? Anthony Hulon!” activists chanted. “No justice, no peace!”
The march began at Lansing’s Ferris Park, where about 60 community activists gathered. The group marched past the Michigan State Capitol to the Lansing Police Department, where they held a rally. The same building also contains the Lansing jail.
Hulon, 54, died on April 11, 2020, in the jail after four Lansing police officers pinned him on his stomach for several minutes while he was handcuffed.
The incident was recorded by a security camera inside the jail cell and released months later.
The video shows officers Edgar Guerra, Gary Worden, Charles Wright and Trevor Allman holding Hulon down, even after he said “I can’t breathe.”
“Positional asphyxia” was the formal cause of death, according to the Ingham County Medical Examiner’s Office. The office labeled the death as a homicide.
Hulon had been arrested 12 hours earlier on a misdemeanor domestic violence charge.
The Buckfire Law firm has filed a lawsuit against the city, the Lansing Police Department, and six individuals for wrongful death, including all four officers who physically held him down. No criminal charges have been filed against any of the officers involved.
Lansing resident James Henson — who is forming a Black Panther Party chapter — spoke in front of Lansing Police Department headquarters.
“This has been going on for so long, but not only for so long, it’s been going on nonstop,” said Henson, who carried a handgun on his right leg. “We want change. In order to make that change, we have got to force that change. We need to do things that other people are afraid to do if we want to actually be free,” he added.
Democratic Lansing mayoral candidate Farhan Sheikh-Omar pointed out that “Anthony Hulon died a month before George Floyd.”
Sheikh-Omar criticized Democratic Lansing Mayor Andy Schor for having marched with Black Lives Matter over the summer, after Hulon’s death, but before the public was aware of the details.
“Andy Schor marched with this community. He took a knee with this community, knowing that a man had died inside that city jail,” he said. “He did not tell us. He did not tell the city council.
“He did not even give any answers to Anthony Hulon’s family. They had to get a lawyer in order to get answers,” he said.
If elected, Sheikh-Omar said he would fire the officers involved.
It was originally expected that members of the anti-government “Boogaloo” movement would participate, but apparent political disagreements ahead of the event caused a split. About a dozen armed “Boogaloo” activists arrived as the rally took place, but stood across the street.
The groups remained separated as the rally approached its conclusion. The Boogaloo activists chanted along as rally attendees held final chants.
“What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now! If we don’t get it? Shut it down!”
Heather Hulon, sister of Anthony Hulon, expressed her intent to continue pressing forward with activism.
“This right here is a start,” she said. “I’m going to keep fighting, fighting for my brother, fighting for everyone else. It’s all of us,” Heather Hulon told Zenger in an interview after the rally. “It affects everyone.”
“I can’t even put into words how much I appreciate everybody coming out for us,” she said.
Given that the officers involved have not been charged, she said justice would mean the officers involved had to be fired. “We don’t want this to happen to somebody else,” she said.
As to broader police reform, Hulon points to qualified immunity, a doctrine that shields police officers from individual civil liability when they may not reasonably know their actions were illegal.
“Retraining — I don’t think is really the answer. I mean yes, they need to be trained better, but they’ve been trained, that’s their job,” she added. “It really lies in changing the laws with qualified immunity, but to do that, it takes everybody to get out and vote.”
(Edited by Kristen Butler, Fern Siegel, Visuals edited by Claire Swift, Allison Itz, Video produced by Jorge Diaz)
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