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Duggan issues Detroit curfew following violent protests

Sarah Rahal Ariana Taylor
The Detroit News

Detroit — Mayor Mike Duggan issued a city-wide curfew Sunday following two days of violent protests against police brutality.

During the curfew — initially from 8 p.m. Sunday to 5 a.m. Monday — people can't use public streets or public areas but can still travel to and from work, Duggan said. Detroit Department of Transportation buses would continue to run.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig and Duggan said Sunday that deploying officers for large groups of protesters from the suburbs is "jeopardizing the city."

Duggan said the curfew will "stay in place as long as the chief feels there is a threat from people outside this community and hopefully it will not be long. ...

“Yesterday, many of these leaders asked people to protest in their own backyard. ... I really had hoped that request would be honored, but when we see a higher level of requests, I have to act to protect the people of this city."

Craig and Duggan said law enforcement is gathering intelligence on people who have come to the city to stir up violence.

Thousands of protesters marched Friday and Saturday to decry the death of George Floyd while being arrested by Minneapolis police on Monday, but they clashed with Detroit police in the late evenings as the crowd swelled and 144 individuals were arrested.

Police launched tear gas and rubber bullets in efforts to disperse the large crowds. While there's been controversy over the police's use of tear gas on citizens, Craig said he gave direct orders to officers to first give warnings, deploy the tear gas and then give warnings again. 

“I continue to applaud the many protesters who have been here over the last several days who honor Mr. Floyd by shining a light on this injustice perpetrated by police officers who have sworn to protect and serve,” Craig said on Sunday. “(The Minnesota officers) are indeed criminals.”

Detroit police chief James Craig speaks at a press conference Sunday about the violent protesting in the city's downtown.

But Craig said the actions of some protesters in the city were also criminal, and the majority of those arrested are from the suburbs. On Friday, 65% of those arrested were from outside of Detroit, by Saturday, it increased to 75% and most were arrested after 1 a.m.

Two protesters who were arrested were from Tennessee and Ohio, Craig said. 

The Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit NAACP, said violent protests are not helping the cause.

"There's a way in which you march. ... Let's not take your eyes off the prize. The prize here is justice," Anthony said. "You're defeating your own purpose; you're putting a knee on the neck of the black community."

Duggan asked protesters to "please respect the requests of the African American leaders of this city and don’t add to our pain."

On Friday night, a 21-year-old man from Eastpointe was shot and killed during a protest. Officials say the suspect was a passerby. Craig said on Sunday he does not believe the shooting was related to the protest. 

"The people of Detroit are in a lot of pain from nearly 1,400 lives lost from coronavirus and what we've seen from law enforcement around this country," Duggan said.

Duggan praised the peaceful protesters Saturday who concluded a gathering at the public safety headquarters with a prayer, saying to one another, “go home, be safe.”

“A decent chunk of people ignored directions of the organizers and didn’t go home, they headed down Michigan Avenue and as the night went on, more and more people gathered and the mood went from honoring George Floyd and trying to make a change to being angry and wanting a confrontation," Duggan said. "When I look at what’s happened, it’s unbelievable."

Duggan said the city hasn't sustained violent destruction simply because of Detroiters.

"In very vocal ways, our residents said no," Duggan said. "It wasn't police being everywhere, but the pride of Detroiters saying, 'this isn't what we do,' but as the night went on, you saw what happened."

srahal@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @SarahRahal_