Oren Goldenberg being arrested at the June 2 Detroit protest. Courtesy of Oren Goldenberg.

Peaceful protests have continued on a nightly basis in Detroit.

Oren Goldenberg, local Jewish filmmaker and Vice President of the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue in Detroit, was beaten and arrested for loitering by Detroit police officers on Tuesday, June 2 during a peaceful protest against the police killing of George Floyd and racial injustice. 

Goldenberg said he was one of several protesters injured and arrested by police in the streets that night. Detroit protests since the death of George Floyd have been largely led by black activists in the city. Goldenberg described his role in the protests as that of an “ally,” and said there were “definitely other Jews there.” 

At the beginning, Goldenberg told the Jewish News, there were roughly 1,000 protesters walking northeast on Gratiot. Eventually, the group was split and shortly before Goldenberg was arrested, his group had only 200 people left. 

The group that Goldenberg was marching in was out past the 8 p.m. curfew that was set by the city of Detroit. Though he and his friend feared being arrested, they ultimately decided that they couldn’t leave the people who were continuing to march. 

Protestors in Detroit on June 2. Courtesy of Oren Goldenberg

The organizers of the march continued to walk shoulder to shoulder until they were surrounded by police with tanks, shields and weapons. 

“I was the first one to get attacked by the police on our side of the march,” Goldenberg said. “When the line of police was two feet away from us, one officer reached out, grabbed me and struck me, threw me to the ground, ripped off my mask, kicked my back, forced my face and neck into the pavement, prodded my ribs with a billy club and then, while on the ground, I was pepper sprayed directly into my eyes, and I was cuffed while on the ground, the police damaging my hand with their plastic restraints. For the record, I had verbally and physically cooperated with the police the entire time.” 

Due to the pepper spray, Goldenberg says he couldn’t see for almost two hours. The protesters were then put on a bus for over an hour, until they were booked at Little Caesars Arena. They were eventually transferred to Mound Rd. Facility, a detention center in Detroit, and released needing to find their own way home, as the police had confiscated their bicycles. Goldenberg says they have yet to return his.   

Protests in Detroit, the largest such demonstrations in Southeast Michigan, have continued on a nightly basis despite the city’s curfew. After the violence of the initial showdowns between protesters and police, local reports indicate that subsequent marches have largely been peaceful, with reduced numbers of arrests; local and state officials have attended some of them, pledging to institute reforms. 

“My voice is important now because I can help amplify the voices leading this movement,” Goldenberg said. “More importantly, I can put my body to use, to fight for justice and my fellow Americans, by showing up to the protests every day, letting everyone know there is support for justice in America and Detroit, and if it is needed, I will put my body in front of those who are at greater risk of being hurt or killed by police enforcement or others.” 

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  1. The group that Goldenberg was marching in was out past the 8 p.m. curfew….

    And still, Mr Goldenberg states: “ For the record, I had verbally and physically cooperated with the police the entire time.”

    Interesting…how does defying a curfew with one’s physical presence demonstrate “co-operation” Me Goldenberg asserts?

  2. Perhaps the question should be reframed. How does a peaceful protester out past curfew deserve the savagery of a brutal arrest?

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