Lt. Governor says focus of protests needs to stay on George Floyd

The state of Michigan's first Black Lt. Governor told FOX 2 that change won't come "from smashing windows." Garlin Gilchrist said in an exclusive 1-on-1 interview that focus of protests here and around the country need to stay on George Floyd.

President Donald Trump told governors across the country to use the National Guard when necessary to stop protest violence. The president went one step further saying if the governors don't do that he may decide to deploy military into the streets if necessary. 

FOX 2 spoke to Gilchrist about that notion.

"We don't need further militarization of the effort to respond to crowds of people crying out for justice," he said. "We reject the president's notion that, that is the right way to interact with people in the United States of America. Certainly people who have been already victimized and villainized by law enforcement. to threaten them further, is exactly the wrong posture to have. That's not the way we are going to approach that in the state of Michigan and we reject that form of rhetoric coming from Washington."

In Michigan the last four days have seen fires and conflict with police, but paling in comparison with what other major cities have seen.

"We've had demonstrations turn violent in our past because people have had uprisings due to racial tensions and discrimination and lack of economic opportunity that happened in the city for decades. And we see the consequences for that. And that kind of destruction is difficult to come back from. I think it is engrained in the spirit of Detroiters, so we know how to protest and demonstrate nonviolently."

It is something that even Vice President Mike Pence told FOX 2 he has taken note of Detroit's protests when he spoke to Roop Raj Tuesday afternoon. 

"The reports from Detroit, not surprisingly, have been very positive," said Vice President Mike Pence. "Detroit is a great community. I saw your chief of police on television and the peaceful protesters in Detroit and in that community, are to be commended."

Gilchrist says it should not be a surprise given not just the spirit of the city but because of the history of protests, that line our streets. 

"We recognize what demonstration looks like in order to get change," he said. "And think our leaders in our city know how to respond to demonstration to get change. I do think that Detroit is showing a model of how we can lead, how we can demonstrate, and how we can win together."

Together, but six feet apart. Social distancing is tough to do in a mass demonstration. It is a strange and tough time to balance the risk of societal ills with viral ones. 

"I haven't seen that, at scale, and some of these demonstrations, that is concerning from a public health perspective," Gilchrist said. "We also recognize that police violence is a public health crisis for communities that have been in danger of it, for far too long. So we recognize that we just want people to demonstrate safely. Nothing and any action we have taken as an administration has removed, prohibited or precluded anyone from practicing their constitutional right."