On May 30, 2020, at 6:00pm, hundreds of protesters of the treatment and subsequent death of George Floyd marched for more than two hours to arrive at the Flint (MI) Township Police Department. Police officers and Genesee County (MI) sheriff’s deputies had been monitoring the event and met the protesters wearing riot gear and holding batons.
The protesters, initially sitting down at the station, indicated that this was intended to be a peaceful demonstration. After some brief conversation, Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson removed his helmet and put his baton on the ground as a sign of peace. After explaining that the officers were only there to ensure the protesters “have a voice,” Swanson asked the group what was needed from them. After several chants of “walk with us,” Swanson and the other officers ultimately joined the march.
“We are walking with you because all you’re asking for is a voice and dignity for all, no matter who you are,” Sheriff Swanson said in a speech after the march. “I love you guys. The police love you.”
A career officer with 27 years at the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, Swanson had been the interim sheriff for almost six months when the event occurred.
“It was that night when hostility reached a tipping point, and this community was within seconds of becoming another national statistic,” said Sheriff Swanson of the demonstration. “I would ask that in your consideration you add to that list those that protested with me, which allowed my voice to be heard, as much as they wanted to be heard.”
“In that one moment, Sheriff Swanson showed the kind of leadership, courage, and integrity that makes exemplary law enforcement leaders,” stated National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund CEO Marcia Ferranto. “While the world is watching how law enforcement behaves, the statements, actions, and commitment to community that he demonstrated makes us proud to honor Sheriff Swanson as Officer of the Month.”
About the National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum
Located in the nation’s capital, the National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum is a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of America’s law enforcement officers. The organization’s Officer of the Month Award Program began in 1996 and recognizes federal, state, and local officers who distinguish themselves through exemplary law enforcement service and devotion to duty.
Established in 1984, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is a nonprofit organization dedicated to telling the story of American law enforcement and making it safer for those who serve. The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial contains the names of 22,217 officers who have died in the line of duty throughout U.S. history. For more information about the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, visit LawMemorial.org.