Detroit police: 100+ arrested, mostly locals, during third night of protests

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Detroit Police Department made more than 100 arrests overnight Sunday into Monday morning as the city confronted its third straight night of large-scale protests regarding police brutality.

Most of the people arrested were from Metro Detroit, said Sgt. Nicole Kirkwood, head of media relations for the department. Two were from out of state.

Organizer Trystan Taylor chants with the crowd. Protesters march against police brutality in Detroit on May 31, 2020.

Police detained and handcuffed Detroit News investigative reporter Christine MacDonald briefly, in the 9 p.m. hour, before letting her go.

Earlier on Sunday, Mayor Mike Duggan instituted a curfew in the city from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday. 

More:Tear gas, arrests mar third day of unrest in Detroit

At curfew time, some of Sunday’s protesters formed a human chain to keep advancing police at bay away from other protesters near department headquarters. Protesters held their line, as if to keep police from breaching their ranks. As chants arose — “No justice, no peace!” — organizers handed out a Bail Project phone number for those who wanted to risk arrest.

Duggan, though arguing that a curfew was necessary to keep a high-tension situation from getting worse as confrontations between protesters and police grew violent on Friday and Saturday, said city hall agrees with the aim of the protesters — the peaceful ones, anyway.

“We actually agree with the protesters,” Duggan said. “I’m still outraged (over George Floyd’s death),” he said, referring to the man who died last week while being arrested by Minneapolis police. 

Police have arrested and prosecutors have charged Derek Chauvin, the then-officer seen on camera with his knee on Floyd's neck during the arrest, but protests have expanded since then. 

Unlike past protests on police brutality, police in many cities have backed the protesters, and worked to separate their legitimate redress of grievances with the government with unlawful looting, burning and violence.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig made national headlines by calling Floyd's death a "murder."

Detroit police officials are seeking the suspected shooter of a 21-year-old Eastpointe man on Friday night (May 29, 2020). He is pictured on the left.

A 21-year-old Eastpointe man was fatally shot in downtown Detroit on Friday, the first night of protesting. While initial reports had it that someone opened fire into the crowd, police now describe a more targeted scenario.

A man approached a silver Dodge Caliber in a parking lot, where the victim was in the vehicle with two other male occupants. The suspect fired shots into the vehicle before fleeing on foot. He was captured on several security cameras, and police are asking for the public's help identifying and locating the man.

The driver was hit at some point, according to police, while he and the other two occupants fled the vehicle. The suspect fled on foot.

A protest Sunday in Royal Oak drew about 100 people to the steps of the 44th District Court, said Lt. Al Carter, a spokesman for the Royal Oak Police Department. The protest went on without incident or arrest.

"It was the event we would definitely wish for, when people want to express their right to protest," Carter said.

In Flint, Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson marched alongside protesters.

"We want to be with y'all for real so I took the helmet off and laid the batons down," Swanson said in the video. "I want to make this a parade, not a protest."

The video went viral and earned Swanson praise from on high. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Sunday tweeted that Swanson "set an example for law enforcement across the nation."

And in Houston, Floyd's hometown, Police Chief Art Acevedo has also marched with protesters. Houston Police Department briefly used an artist rendering of Floyd, with the hashtag #JusticeForFloyd, as its profile picture on Twitter.

That welcoming spirit toward the protests is being altered by the reality of what the peaceful events turn into as night falls.

Gov. Whitmer noted that some protesters are "abusing this pain to further their own agenda." She described them as individuals "who came into communities of color under the guise of support, but who instigated violence and vandalism."

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II, who is black, came up as a political organizer in the 2008 Barack Obama presidential campaign, before leveraging his digital talents to head up technology for Detroit city hall. 

Now as second-in-command for Michigan, he urged people to use their energy constructively.

"Relief will not come from smashing windows," Gilchrist said in a video Sunday, alongside Gov. Whitmer. "Relief won't come from tweets alone. Relief won't come from dropping our guard in this pandemic as tempting as it is."

Michigan's capital city, Lansing, was targeted for violence Sunday, as people broke windows to the Romney Building, home of the governor's office, and police deployed tear gas to break up crowds.

Earlier in the day, the protesters met outside the Capitol building, where they said the "power" in Michigan lies, and marched a few miles from Lansing to East Lansing, blocking many roads on their way.

When the protesters arrived back in downtown Lansing at about 6:30 p.m., the tone of the event deteriorated as the original organizers lost control. A fistfight broke out and demonstrators circled a vehicle on Washington Square.

Then things got worse. 

At one point Sunday night, the protesters in Lansing alleged the driver of a car tried to hit them. Police officers surrounded the gray vehicle and escorted the driver into a law enforcement vehicle down the street.

After the driver left the scene, protesters flipped the car and it caught fire. It was unclear whether demonstrators set the car ablaze. Another vehicle was left upside down a few blocks away on Grand Avenue.

On the west side of the state, in Grand Rapids, Mayor Rosalynn Bliss declared a "civil emergency" due to escalating violence, which included seven car fires and three building fires caused by arson. Bliss instituted a curfew on Sunday a curfew that runs from 7 p.m.-5 a.m., into Tuesday morning.

The Michigan National Guard activated in Grand Rapids on Sunday, at Bliss's request, "to ensure peace and repair property damage," a statement said.

Capt. Andrew Layton, spokesman for the Michigan National Guard, said it sent about 125 people to Grand Rapids. Monday they will help with cleanup, and board up windows, but also help maintain peace at an afternoon rally.

The Guard sent 35 people to Lansing as a "peaceful presence," Layton said. Initial reports put that number at 25.

Lansing Mayor Andy Schor, in the statement, called the guard "a great force multiplier to protect Lansing residents and area businesses."

The guard's presence in both cities will last "as long as requested," Layton said.

Lansing and Grand Rapids are the only cities to ask for help as yet. The Michigan National Guard has about 11,500 members, Layton said, and most of them volunteer one weekend a month. A small number work full-time for the guard.

The guard deploys members to areas near their home, Layton said. 

"They come from whatever other job they're working as civilians, or whatever else they have going on in their life, they drop it, and they report for duty," Layton said. 

About 900 members of the guard are still distributing COVID-19 tests, distributing personal protective equipment and helping out at food banks. President Donald Trump said last week the guard's work related to the coronavirus, which is federally-funded would last through mid-August.

The guardsmen being deployed in response to protests are paid by the state, Layton said.

Police made clear they supported the cause and the protest, but not the violence, illustrating the fine line government officials are walking, between voicing support for a cause protesters believe is just and preventing those redresses from becoming violent. 

“People have a right to demonstrate; they have a right to free speech," Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Payne said. "We are allowing people to do that. It is my desire to keep this community safe and for people to demonstrate and then move on."

Grand Rapids Deputy Chief David Kiddle added: “We’re here to protect their First Amendment rights.”

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