At approximately 9:45 a.m. Feb. 19, Shelby Township police officers were dispatched to U.S. Rep. Candice Miller’s office, located south of 28 Mile on Van Dyke Avenue, for a large, unannounced protest.
The group, later identified as being affiliated with Michigan United and National People’s Action, arrived on four school buses, and more than 150 individuals, holding signs and chanting, crammed into the building.
According to the police report, the office manager stated that two females entered the lobby and requested an application for a flag. When the office manager opened the office door to give the application to them, one of them held the door open and the large group pushed its way into the office from outside.
Upon arrival, officers entered the office area and attempted to make contact with a leader for the organization, but no one acknowledged who that person was at the time.
Police worked their way through the crowd and located the office manager, who said she and the district manager were the only staffers at the office. Police escorted the two women away from the crowd.
Michigan United Director of Movement Politics Bartosz Kumor, of Detroit, told police he would act as spokesman for National People’s Action and said the group wished for immigration reform and came to the office to speak with Miller in an effort to change her position on immigration.
Police said that, for safety concerns of the large group inside the office, they should request an appointment with Miller. Police also advised Kumor of the group’s right to protest off private property and that the owner of the building did not want them impeding traffic flow or hindering business on private property.
Kumor informed the group and they peacefully exited the building in a single file line as they continued to chant.
The group assembled in the office parking lot for approximately five minutes, holding signs up for passing motorists as officers stood by, and then the protesters boarded the buses and left.
Miller provided a statement to the Shelby-Utica News Feb. 19.
“I fully support U.S. citizens’ First Amendment right and have always encouraged my constituents, who are U.S. citizens, to bring their concerns to my attention. The individuals who came to my office today were treated cordially, with respect and I fully understand their position.”
Shelby Township Police Chief Robert Shelide said his initial response was concern for the well-being of the employees.
“(The protesters) kind of went in unannounced and without permission and took over the office,” Shelide said. “We will not tolerate that kind of behavior in the community. Our shift supervisors cleared them out of the office and told them if you want to protest, do it out on the sidewalk.”
Shelide added that members from the Police Department would be sitting down with Miller’s deputy director to talk about security enhancements for the office so that such an incident doesn’t happen again.
Michigan United Media Coordinator Erik Shelley, of Redford, said the group had tried repeatedly to meet with Miller and submitted multiple forms to her office to arrange a meeting.
“It wasn’t like we just sprang up and surprised her. One of our principles is to build up to direct action. We’ve given her every opportunity to meet with us and speak civilly,” Shelley said.
He said the group was in the area to attend a conference on community organization and the group consisted of people from Michigan and from across the country.
Shelley said the group opposed Miller’s work to defund immigration actions that would allow children brought into the United States and their parents to stay without fear of deportation and increase militarization of the border.