Demonstrators March From Benton Harbor To St. Joseph

The mile-and-a-half march started outside Benton Harbor City Hall, crossed
the bridge over the St. Joseph River and ended at the Berrien County
Courthouse, where a 90-minute rally ensued.

Benton Harbor was the site of two nights of rioting last month following a
high-speed police chase during which a local motorcyclist died when he
crashed into a vacant building. The Berrien County prosecutor has since
cleared police of any wrongdoing in the death of 27-year-old Terrance Devon
Shurn.

The rioting and public outcry that followed highlighted Benton Harbor's
bleak economic outlook and focused attention on the stark disparity between
the mostly black city and St. Joseph, its mostly white neighbor across the
river.

Joe Walker, 70, a resident of East Grand Rapids and a member of Grand
Rapids-based Peoples Alliance, said he attended Saturday's protest --
organized by the Southwest Michigan Coalition Against Racism and Police
Brutality -- to help focus attention on "institutional racism."

"It's just a demonstration that will get some people's attention and it may
start some dialogue," Walker said.

Protesters shouted chants of "What do we want? Justice!" and "No justice, no
peace, no racist police!" as they marched between the two cities. They
carried signs bearing such phrases as "Heal racism" and "Fighting back aint
wrong! Anarchists support the Benton Harbor rebellion".

Demonstrator Roy McGowan, 29, of Chicago said he belongs to an activist
group called the Federation of Revolutionary Anarchist Collectives, which he
said is active in the Great Lakes states and the upper Midwest.

McGowan said he came to Benton Harbor to protest racial repression and to
give his support to the city's residents.

"This is not just an isolated case," McGowan said of Shurn's death June
16th. "This is going on all over the place, whether it's L.A., whether it's
New York, whether it's Miami."

Most protesters walked in the street instead of the sidewalk, even though
the city of Benton Harbor denied their request for a permit that would have
allowed them to legally march in the street.

There was no apparent police presence along the route in either city.