Craig says curfew to stand for now, urges peaceful protests
Detroit — A temporary curfew remains in place in Detroit as anti-brutality protests are expected to continue and Police Chief James Craig notes a top goal of "reducing the likelihood of violence in our city."
"The neighborhood has spoken. They don't want it here," the chief said during a Wednesday afternoon news conference. "We are fighting for this community."
The chief, joined by command staff and community leaders, convened the briefing in the parking lot of a Family Dollar on Gratiot following the fifth straight night of protests in the city that resulted in 127 arrests at the location Tuesday night.
Tuesday's arrests marked the highest volume so far in Detroit as demonstrators have descended on the city's streets to rally and march in protest of a police incident that resulted in the death of George Floyd last week in Minneapolis. The protest was not marked by violence but police were filmed making mass arrests of individuals who were out beyond the city's 8 p.m. curfew.
Craig said Wednesday that some individuals voiced their intentions to ignore the curfew and headed in a different direction from other marchers.
"In fact, there was an expectation that some of the protesters would be arrested," he said. "They even exchanged numbers so they could get legal advice very quickly."
Craig said officers gave four warnings before initiating arrests Tuesday night, adding it was "not the outcome that this department is looking for."
After the warnings, things turned aggressive, Craig said, and a supervisor who was grabbed and pulled into the crowd deployed his own canister of tear gas to defuse the situation, the chief said.
The police department said the evening's arrests included 60 men and 67 women, and 47 out of the overall group of 127 were Detroit residents. Six others were from out-of-state and the rest were Metro Detroit residents.
The majority were arrested for not abiding by the curfew. Tristan Taylor, the leader of the group who organized the protest, was arrested Tuesday for a misdemeanor of resisting and not following orders. Craig said he's been released.
He initially had been facing a charge of inciting a riot, Craig said. But it was later determined that charge was not warranted.
"While he did violate the curfew and failed to follow an order given by a police officer, that's the extent of it," he said.
Those detained Tuesday night were processed at Little Caesars Arena on Woodward, Craig said. Previously, a small substation was used for processing but the space was too limited.
The out-of state-protesters were from Maryland, California, Washington, D.C., and three from New York, he said.
"The question is why? Why are you here," said Craig, adding Detroiters are "fed up and they are tired."
"They share that pain (of Floyd's death)," he said. "But what they cannot come to grips with is people from another city ... focused on one thing and one thing only, they are here to engage in criminal behavior. Detroit has spoken. You're not welcome. Go home."
The demonstrations in Detroit as well as other parts of Michigan are spurred by the Memorial Day death of Floyd in Minnesota. Floyd, who was black, was handcuffed and on the ground when a white officer knelt on his neck for eight minutes. He later died. The officer, Derek Chauvin, was later arrested and charged in the death.
Over the weekend, the Detroit department arrested 84 people on Saturday and another 100-plus on Sunday. By Monday, the department had only cited 40 people for curfew violations, the chief has said.
On Tuesday evening, Craig told reporters that some of the group complied with orders to disperse. Others offered resistance "and so they were taken into custody."
"We don't want to arrest, but if we have to, we will," he said.
The chief also noted that he and other officers visited the demonstration Tuesday and took a knee with the protesters in solidarity.
Deputy Police Chief Elaine Bryant for city's east side also addressed the media Wednesday, saying officers have been patient, kind and considerate to demonstrators.
"We don't condone unlawful or unnecessary use of force," she said.
Community member Ray Winans said Wednesday that residents already traumatized by the 1967 uprising saw trucks like tanks Tuesday evening and felt it was "very unnecessary."
"Detroit got Detroit. Ya'll come, peaceful protest that's one thing," he said to those who police have said are embedding themselves in the gatherings and agitating. "We're not with violence."
Several police officers have been injured since the protest began. On Friday, an officer was struck with a boulder and suffered a concussion. Another officer had a shoulder injury and a third sustained damage to his knee that Craig said would require surgery.
The officers have deployed tear gas and rubber bullets in some tense moments over the course of the last few days. Some violent protesters, the chief has said, have targeted officers with bricks, rocks, fireworks and railroad spikes.
Craig said Wednesday that it's unclear how long the curfew will remain in place. It's being evaluated by the department hourly.
"There are a number of things I'm looking for," he said. "Last night, while it wasn't the type of violence we saw nights one, two and three.
"We want to encourage people to peacefully protest. We welcome it."