Demonstrators in Lansing block roads to call attention to racism in Michigan prison system
LANSING, Mich. (SINCLAIR BROADCAST GROUP) - Friday night, tempers flared in Lansing as demonstrators blocked roads to demand change.
Around forty people gathered near the State Capitol to bring attention to what they call racism and fascism in Michigan's prison system.
The group of protestors blocked Michigan and Grand Avenues just blocks away from the State Capitol.
No one was arrested, but some protesters were prepared to leave in cuffs to get their message heard.
It's a question every protester has to answer: How far are you willing to go to be heard.
"As prison abolitionists we ask the question, does prison solve the problem that is created by society," said protest organizer Alejo Stark.
"Michigan for instance, black folks are incarcerated at a rate that is six times higher than white folks," Stark said.
Alejo Stark blocked the busy intersection calling for every prisoner in Michigan to be released in the streets.
"We want everyone out. Which means everyone out of ankle shackles and everyone out of their prisons and cages," he said.
But as cars lined up for several blocks, and police tried to calm tempers, several drivers had little sympathy for the message that had them idled for 30 minutes.
"I understand they have some concerns and stuff like that. But to go do something like this, I mean no wonder we have all this violence and stuff. If you have a protest, you do what I do, you write to your Senator or Congressman and you vote," one driver said.
As they chanted fire to the prisons and freedom to the prisoners, Republican Senator Patrick Colbeck says the very people calling for prison reform should be the ones put in jail.
That's if this is how far they are willing to go.
"A lot of these people are just are poking and prodding to get a reaction that is something of concern and is something we need to show some self control and restrain on and when people break the law you should put them in jail," he said.
According to the Lansing Police, it is illegal for demonstrators to block traffic.
As a side note, Michigan lawmakers are working on bills to reduce the cost of our prison system and help prevent crimes from happening in the first place.
We'll tell you all about those bills when lawmakers come back from summer break.