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Protesters demand firing of Shelby Township police chief

Posted at 5:03 PM, Jun 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-17 23:38:38-04

SHELBY TOWNSHIP (WXYZ) — Protesters gathered outside the Shelby Township City Hall Wednesday to call for the firing of Police Chief Robert Shelide after he made remarks on Twitter promoting police brutality.

RELATED: Shelby Township trustees vote to suspend police chief after comments supporting police brutality

In his tweets under an alias, the chief referred to looters as "subhuman" and "wild savages that should be in body bags" following the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.

Shelby Township Trustees voted 5-2 for the chief to receive a 30-day suspension and take cultural awareness and de-escalation training.

Of the township's seven trustees, Supervisor Rick Stathakis and board member Vince Viviano were the only ones to vote for Shelide's firing.

"We want the trustees to remove him," said protest organizer Jackie Debeau. "We will protest until we are heard."

The group of about 100 protesters held signs along Van Dyke Ave outside the entrance to the police department.

"We have a chief that will not represent all of us, white, brown, black people," Debeau said.

There were a few counter protesters across the street. One man who was holding a Thin Blue Line flag declined to give his name but supported the chief, "He's an American citizen he has a right to make those comments," said the anonymous man.

Debeau believes the chief gave the community a black eye and a 30-day suspension and courses fall short of addressing the misconduct of a person who holds a position of public trust.

"This is not leadership," Debeua said. "This is not policing in a community."

"That was just a slap on the wrist," said Rev. W.J. Rideout III. "This trustee board should automatically get rid of him. We don't need this contamination in any police department."

The chief addressed the public during Monday's township public meeting saying that he is not a racist, and that his Tweets were misinterpreted and only in response to looters after watching a video on social media of alleged demonstrators beating a shop owner with a two-by-four piece of wood.

Action News reporter Rudy Harper called Chief Shelide on Wednesday and he hung up the phone.