Duggan, Craig end curfew during anti-brutality protests

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Detroit — The city is discontinuing a controversial curfew put in place to stem the potential for violence amid ongoing anti-brutality protesting downtown.

Mayor Mike Duggan made the announcement during a Monday news conference, noting that the actions of some agitators during early demonstrations in the city have waned. 

"The Detroit police were backed by the people of the city. There's no doubt it was the people of the city of Detroit who said 'not in our town,'' Duggan said. "We're going to remain vigilant but I think we have successfully convinced those individuals causing those kinds of problems to go to other cities because there wasn't any support for that kind of behavior here."

Duggan joined with Police Chief James Craig following the 10th consecutive night of protests in the city, noting the 8 p.m. curfew had not been enforced for the past three nights. The curfew started May 31. 

The pair, the mayor added, will meet Tuesday with organizers of the Detroit protests to talk out some of the 23 demands the group listed, including ending cash bail and pretrial detentions and eliminating funding for the Police Department. 

"If the conversation is how do we move systemic racism out of the criminal justice system, we're going to find a lot of common group," Duggan said. "Nobody wants to fight that more than Chief Craig and I do. We have a lot of ideas. We hope it'll be constructive."

Craig said Monday that the police department arrested 421 adults and three youth during the protests from May 29 to June 7.

Of those detained, 136 individuals — or 32% — were Detroit residents. Another 275 were Metro Detroiters, and about 10 from out of state were arrested. 

No arrests associated with the protests have been made since Tuesday, said Craig, adding the protesters "were committed to peace."

"Our response was clear; we didn't enforce the curfew and it was important not to," he said.

Duggan made a point Monday of addressing some of the protesters' demands — including stopping the cash bail system — saying he himself has always been "appalled" by it.

"This cash bond system is fundamentally racially discriminatory," he said. "Is this a time that we can get folks to focus on it?" 

The city can't change the policy itself, Duggan said, noting it requires action from lawmakers at the state or county levels.  

The mayor also announced Monday that he's tapped new Deputy Mayor Conrad Mallet to oversee the formation of a "Community Health Corp," which is expected to reach out to those in need in the community and find meaningful ways to help them.

Officials with the city's Housing and Revitalization Department also recapped the Duggan administration's plan to direct $31 million in federal block grant dollars to help battle against COVID-19 by covering back rent, curbing evictions and housing Detroit's homeless population. Detroit's City Council is expected to vote on the measures during its Tuesday formal session. 

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan arrives at a news conference with Detroit Police chief James Craig on Sunday to speak about the violence in downtown Detroit.

Detroit is among the hard-hit cities nationwide sharing in a portion of $1 billion from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under the federal CARES Act. The funding is earmarked for communities with high public health risks. 

Pending council approval, the city will get $20.8 million in block-grant dollars for housing counseling, tax-filing aid for about 3,500 people, and eviction defense and rental assistance for landlords and tenants. Another $10.5 million in emergency solutions grants would expand outreach for people who are homeless and help supply permanent housing for up to 24 months. 

As of Monday, the city's Health Department reported 11,239 confirmed cases of the virus and 1,401 deaths. 

The city has recorded a total of six deaths so far in June, down from the 40 to 50 residents being lost daily to the deadly respiratory disease in April. 

Detroit intends to use some of the funding toward tax-filing assistance, covering renter arrearages and providing meals and prescription delivery services to seniors who have tested positive for the virus.