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Mayor of Benton Harbor reacts to George Floyd's death

NOW: Mayor of Benton Harbor reacts to George Floyd’s death

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. -- The Mayor of Benton Harbor is reacting to the death of George Floyd in Minnesota and the subsequent protests nationwide.

While people in Michigan can’t gather for demonstrations due to the governor’s stay-at-home order, residents have reached out to the mayor about their concern over the events in Minneapolis.

“I do know that there’s a serious concern among Benton Harbor residents as it relates to what happened in Minnesota,” said Mayor Marcus Muhammad. “We feel the hurt, we feel the pain of the family – the Floyd family, his loved ones – and the pain of the entire state of Minnesota. We’re just watching and hoping that none of that strikes in the city of Benton Harbor.”

Mayor Muhammad is working to be a unifying force in the community right now – but also shared his concerns of the possibility of protests, like those taking place nationwide, happening in Benton Harbor – something the city has already been through before.

17 years ago, in 2003, fiery riots overwhelmed Benton Harbor for days after Terrance Shurn – a black man – crashed his motorcycle and died during a police chase.

“It’s no secret that Benton Harbor has had our challenges – just in 2003,” said Mayor Muhammad. “Where Benton Harbor, like Minneapolis, was national and international news as a result of police interaction with a resident.”

But the mayor is asking residents to not let this time steer them away from the progress that has been made since 2003.

“It’s when you start having a breakdown from a society standpoint, a community standpoint, like we’re seeing in Minneapolis,” said Mayor Muhammad. “And it’s almost a trickle down effect where we see cities going through turmoil.”

Mayor Muhammad also credits the police department’s efforts to build relationships and engage with residents – one officer he specifically praises, Public Safety Director Dan McGinnis.

“He is out in the community and we haven’t had the turnover – that’s huge – because when you have officers going in and out it’s difficult to build a relationship,” said Muhammad. “But we’ve had some retention in that department since he’s been in leadership and that speaks to his relationship with his officers and staff.”

Mayor Muhammad understands that residents may want to get out right now to express themselves and asks that they use social media to do so instead for the time being – and of course, they can always reach out to him.

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