16-year-old protester helped prevent a potentially violent clash between protesters and Detroit cops


Stefan Perez was one of the leaders of Monday's peaceful protest. - STEVE NEAVLING
  • Steve Neavling
  • Stefan Perez was one of the leaders of Monday's peaceful protest.

Dozens of Detroit police in riot gear were lined up on Michigan Avenue on Monday night, facing hundreds of protesters who were refusing to budge in defiance of an 8 p.m. curfew.

What looked like an inevitable clash between heavily armed cops and peaceful protesters was avoided after 16-year-old Stefan Perez, who was one of the rally’s leaders, used his megaphone to urge demonstrators to disperse.

It wasn’t an easy decision for the Southwest Detroit resident. He was in tears, worried that he had let protesters down. But nonviolent activists assured him he did the right thing.

“I care about the message,” Perez told reporters as demonstrators dispersed. “I could have worn a hoodie and a mask the whole time, but people wouldn’t have heard me that way. They heard me this way.”

In the middle of the interview, a stranger handed Perez a phone. Mayor Mike Duggan was on the other line. The mayor commended Perez for helping lead the protest and urging for a peaceful end of the night.

Duggan announced an 8 p.m. curfew for the next seven days beginning Monday.

The march began shortly before 5 p.m. at Detroit Public Safety Headquarters. Protesters peacefully marched with signs for several miles though Southwest Detroit and eventually walked down Michigan Avenue with arms locked. They were met by a long line of police in riot shields and helmets.

After a roughly 10-minute standoff, protesters dispersed.

Police still made 40 arrests, mostly for curfew violations. Of those, 16 were people from Detroit, and the rest were from the suburbs, Sgt. Nicole Kirkwood tells Metro Times.

On Sunday night, police fired tear gas, flash grenades, and rubber bullets into a peaceful crowd that was refusing to disperse.

Another anti-police brutality rally is planned Tuesday at 4 p.m. at Public Safety Headquarters.

Stay on top of Detroit news and views. Sign up for our weekly issue newsletter delivered each Wednesday.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.