August 15 Protest

August 6,2021:

The OIR Group’s independent review of the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety’s (KDPS) handling of two critical events during the summer of 2020 has been completed and released. 

The OIR Group will present its findings during a joint meeting of the City Commission and the Citizens Public Safety Review and Appeals Board (CPSRAB) on Tuesday, Aug. 10 at 6 p.m. The meeting will be held virtually and will be streamed live on the City of Kalamazoo’s Facebook page and YouTube Channel.

The OIR Group’s report detailed a series of 40 recommendations based on its comprehensive analysis which included review of videotaped evidence, written evidence, numerous interviews and listening sessions.

The report acknowledged that the “realities of last summer were more complicated than some believed” and that “KDPS did many things creditably and without a discriminatory motivation.” It also found “room for improvement certainly existed – as is almost always the case with police agencies or any other organization in the aftermath of critical, high-profile incidents.”

The full report can be found on the City of Kalamazoo’s at www.kalamazoocity.org/OIRreport.

A memo from City Manager Jim Ritsema to the Kalamazoo City Commission and the Citizens Public Safety Review and Appeals Board can be found  pdfhere (198 KB) .

“We take the findings and recommendations from this important report very seriously, and we plan to use this independent review as a tool to help us learn, grow and improve,” said City Manager Jim Ritsema. “We will work with KDPS and our community to develop a plan to implement key changes and improvements detailed in this report so we can build upon our successes, learn from our mistakes and better serve the residents of Kalamazoo through effective and transparent community policing.”

The City of Kalamazoo and Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety will withhold further comment on the report until after the OIR Group’s presentation Tuesday.


September 9, 2020:

The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety today released photos, video and body cam footage from the Proud Boys’ Aug. 15 march through Kalamazoo following a top-down review of the City’s response to the day’s events. 

“At KDPS, our top priority is keeping our residents, visitors, businesses and the media safe, and we look at every incident as an opportunity to do things better and do things differently,” said KDPS Chief Karianne Thomas. “We are committed to transparency and accountability and our goal is to learn from this incident, improve and create a better Kalamazoo for residents, families and visitors.”

“This was a chaotic and dangerous situation that changed quickly, and reviewing the footage has allowed us to critically assess our response to the march and protests so we can see where we can improve and fulfill our mission of keeping residents and visitors in Kalamazoo safe,” said Vernon Coakley, KDPS assistant chief.

Following the review, Chief Thomas presented three takeaways:

  • KDPS intentionally chose to avoid a strong police presence with the goal of minimizing violence and deescalating an already volatile situation. This is a technique successfully used by KDPS with other protests this summer. Thomas has recommended to city leaders that KDPS explore additional techniques of safe separation of groups for future protests and demonstrations.
  • KDPS actively engaged in conversations and monitoring the various groups’ plans for that day, however neither the Proud Boys nor the group of counter-protestors were operating in full partnership with the city. The Proud Boys intentionally deceived the public and used disinformation as part of their strategy, publicizing a false location and start time, and the counter-protestors publicized a peaceful rally yet some individuals brought and displayed weapons.
  • The subcommittee’s preliminary report released last week is a roadmap that can help the City and KDPS better protect and serve the Kalamazoo community in the future. The report highlights several opportunities for improvement in the areas of safety, community relationships and communications, equity and accountability.

10 videos, including a review by KDPS, are available in the playlist below: 


August 17, 2020:

On Saturday, August 15, 2020 members of a group known as the Proud Boys came to downtown Kalamazoo. Other individuals and groups had organized a counter protest. The Proud Boys were met on Water Street by opposing groups. Numerous physical fights broke out among the groups in the area of Water Street and Edwards Street.

Any members of the public who were victims of a crime are asked to come forward so these crimes can be investigated. Additionally, any members of the public that have photo or video evidence of criminal activity are asked to share it with law enforcement to assist with this ongoing investigation. Please call KDPS non-emergency (269) 488-8911 to report any incidents or to provide any photos, video or other information. You may also contact Silent Observer at (269) 343-2100 or www.kalamazoosilentobserver.com.

The video below taken from the traffic camera at Water and Edwards streets shows a portion of the events: 

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