Pro-Palestine protestors arrested in Royal Oak during peaceful rally

Palestinian supporters claim the arrests were unlawful
Posted at 6:53 PM, Dec 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-10 18:53:33-05

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (WXYZ) — The Royal Oak Police Department is facing criticism after two protestors were arrested during Saturday's peaceful rally.

Palestinian supporters say the arrests were unlawful and today, while protesting outside the police department, people are demanding answers.

"There were about 500 people who didn't see anything. So I'm demanding the unconditional release of Joe Hix," said Ahmed Ghanim, a Palestinian supporter.

Ghanim was one of the 500 protesters at yesterday's rally in downtown Royal Oak. Ahmed says during the final leg of the rally, which was calling for peace in the Middle East and a ceasefire in Gaza, Palestinian supporters were met with a heavy police presence. And that's when Hix, a man in his 40s, was arrested by Royal Oak police.

"The police were very aggressive. They were very aggressive from the beginning. They threatened a lot of people during the protest. They came and were pushing people with their cars," said Ghanim.

Ghanim also shared footage with 7 Action News of an officer trying to snatch a megaphone from a young protester. And other footage showed a woman being shoved by a male officer. Meanwhile, Asad Siddiqui from Taylor was another person who was arrested.

"I was on the sidewalk. I don't know why the police aren't clear about any of this," said Siddiqui.

But around four hours later, the 25-year-old was released. Lt. Rich Millard from the Royal Oak Police Department says the officers only wanted the protesters to follow the law and use only the sidewalk to exercise their 1st Amendment right.

"There was one person... telling people to go on the street, and he was arrested for disorderly conduct. And when he was arrested, another person tried to interfere, and he was arrested as well," said Lt. Rich Millard, with Royal Oak Police Departments Criminal Investigation Division.

It's believed Hix is that second person. According to Lt. Millard, he faces three charges: obstruction, assaulting a police officer, and disorderly conduct.

"At any point, did you see it turn into a non-peaceful protest?" asked 7 Action News Lt. Millard.

"Peaceful in a sense there was no damage to property and things were thrown, so yes. But we also have to maintain order in some capacity. The downtown area was shut down for over an hour," said Lt. Millard.

"Police already blocked the streets, so there was no block in traffic, and I didn't see any assault from the person they arrested," said Ghanim.

Ghanim is also upset that in the midst of chaos, the true message behind the protest was lost.

"All we want is a ceasefire in Gaza. Save the lives of innocent women and children, and release the Israeli hostages. Everyone here wants peace in the Middle East" said Ghanim.

According to police, the case has been referred to the Oakland County Prosecutor's Office, and the individual is expected to be arraigned on Monday, December 11.