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Organizers hope protest in honor of Michael Dean will spark change

Michael Dean
Posted at 11:04 PM, Jun 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-01 12:18:49-05

TEMPLE, Texas —

As people across the nation continue to protest police brutality and racial inequality, organizers in Temple hope a protest designed to honor the life of Michael Dean will spark change in Temple police policy and eradicate racist behaviors.

Protesters plan to gather at the Municipal Building in downtown Temple at 6:30 p.m. on June 5 before marching together to the Temple Police Department (TPD). Organizers say it is a peaceful march, and they are actively working to avoid rioting and looting.

Dean, a father of two, was shot and killed by a now former Temple police officer during a traffic stop in December 2019. Carmen DeCruz was arrested and charged with manslaughter in the case, but those close to Dean believe justice has not been served.

"I want to see a change in the actions of our police officers here in Temple," Patrick Arryn, a former classmate of Dean said. "I don't want to hear about police officers being disrespectful, dehumanizing and violating everybody's rights."

In January, Terris Goodwin started a petition asking for justice in the Michael Dean case. In the petition, Goodwin called out the Temple Police Department for a lack of transparency during the investigation into Dean's death. She said she hopes the petition will lead to reform in department policies which led the case to be "terminated and sealed."

"At this point, justice is that," Goodwin said. "Doing whatever it takes to make sure this doesn't happen again."

Goodwin's online petition saw a major uptick in signatures following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. On June 1, the petition had around 20,000 signatures, but by June 4, that number was close to 90,000. She said Floyd's death brought Dean back into focus across the country.

"When you see a video of someone's life getting taken and you remember that we have Michael Dean meet a similar fate in a different way, you can draw those comparisons," Goodwin said.

Goodwin said it is not enough to simply sign the petition. She hopes it will rather call the Temple community to action.

"Until our community comes together of all races and backgrounds and walks of life and says as a community, "We will not accept this," we won't get change," she said.

Now, Goodwin and Arryn hope to take the online petition to the streets of Temple by hosting a protest downtown. Several community leaders, including new Temple Police Chief Shawn Reynolds, are expected to speak at the event before organizers lead protesters on a peaceful march to TPD headquarters.

Chief Reynolds released a statement on Facebook, saying, "I, the staff and members of the Temple Police Department have begun a review of policies, procedures and training to ensure that we are providing the most up-to-date best practices, expectations and training to the dedicated members of the Temple Police Department."

Chief Reynolds went on to say the department is "committed to listening and understanding as we continue to learn and grow from the experience of others."

Organizers say they believe the protest will serve as a great platform for leaders like Chief Reynolds to listen to grievances and begin the process of change.

"I want him to listen," Arryn said. "And after he hears the horrific stories that have happened here by Temple law enforcement, then I want him to make sure that that never happens again."

The protest will take place at 6:30 p.m. on 2 North Main St in downtown Temple.