Vernon Coakley Takes Charge Of KDPS; Demonstrators React To Trump On Proud Boys
Kalamazoo’s public safety department has a new leader. Vernon Coakley, a former assistant chief, was promoted after Karianne Thomas stepped down. She faced intense criticism for Public Safety’s response to several events this summer, including a rally of the far-right group the Proud Boys that ended in a clash with counter-protestors.
Corianna McDowell of Kalamazoo co-organized a rally for just policing in downtown Kalamazoo yesterday.
“I’m hoping that Chief Coakley, being an African-American in this leadership role, that he really hears our voice, that he really understands where we come from and that we start making some changes in Kalamazoo, the city and the county as a whole,” she told WMUK.
Another organizer, TC Custard of Kalamazoo Township, held a sign that read, “Coakley, you could be a hero.”
“Today marks a fresh start for Chief Coakley, and it’s important for us as leaders to make sure we hold him accountable as well,” she said.
McDowell, Custard and other participants condemned President Trump’s remarks on the Proud Boys during the presidential debate Tuesday. Trump said the group should, quote, “stand back and stand by.” He later claimed he’s not familiar with the Proud Boys.
“It did shock me that out of all groups and all racial hate groups he decided to pick them out,” McDowell said. “It was very disturbing.”
“The reality is, democracy is at an all-time low,” McDowell said “Last night completely showed it.”
“We’ve had militia groups come into Kalamazoo and tear our city apart,” she added. “Nothing is surprising anymore from [Trump]. And that’s why it’s important for us to go out and invoke that right and make sure that November 3rd we show up and we show out.”
Demonstrator Andrew Gray of Kalamazoo criticized Trump for failing to condemn white supremacy during the debate.
“All he had to say was four words, ‘I denounce white supremacy,’ in all its forms,” Gray said. “He couldn’t do that. What does that tell you about him?”