The actions of Detroit Police on the morning of Sunday, August 23 were sadistic and all too familiar. Video footage clearly shows that DPD escalated a confrontation with demonstrators exercising their right to assemble. The evidence is shocking, damning, and overwhelming. Utilizing the playbook police departments always use when they have been caught abusing their power, Detroit Police shamefully spread lies to the media almost immediately following the events of Sunday morning. The department, led by Chief James Craig, has been changing their story ever since.
After Sunday’s display of police brutality, A DPD spokeswoman announced that protestors had thrown rocks and water bottles at police. On Monday, Chief Craig was forced to walk back that lie. When a police officer was clearly shown on video striking a citizen whose hands were tied with a baton, Chief Craig provided a lie of his own by saying “the officer never struck that individual.” When legal observers were assaulted and pepper-sprayed early Sunday morning, Chief Craig was unapologetic and proudly boasted that his department would ignore the Constitutional rights of lawyers and journalists at the scene.
These are hardly isolated incidents. Earlier this summer when a police SUV rammed through a crowd of protestors in Detroit, Chief Craig suggested the officers “did the right thing.” There have been numerous instances of Craig’s unchecked bullies brutalizing our fellow citizens and even killing our dogs. Chief Craig has also excitedly welcomed the presence of federal agents as part of the Trump Administrations explicitly racist “Operation Legend” that presents more state-sanctioned terror in communities that have been systematically abandoned and underfunded for decades. When leadership, dignity, and accountability are most needed—Chief Craig has demonstrated that he possesses none of the above.
Whether it be the daily marches led by Detroit Will Breathe or the many actions led by other grassroots organizations, Detroit has been showing up in defense of Black lives for three months now. We have been demonstrating in support of defunding the police so that those funds could be directed to far more effective measures of public safety like mental health services, counseling, and housing, and education. The response to the protestors from Chief Craig’s deputy chief following their display of police brutality on Sunday morning was "You are not welcome here. Go. It’s just not working.”
On the contrary, Chief Craig’s disregard for citizens’ first amendment rights is not welcome here. Chief Craig’s willingness to excuse the violent conduct of his officers—the vast majority of whom don’t live in Detroit—is not welcome here. Chief Craig’s willingness to cozy up to the brazenly racist Trump Administration is not welcome here.
We call upon Detroit Police Chief James Craig to resign. Go. It’s just not working. Our work has only just begun.
Signatories of the Statement
1 Michigan for the Global Majority
Black Brown Alliance of Metro Detroit Democratic Socialists
Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100)
Charlevoix Village Association
Community Movement Builders
Detroit Area Youth Uniting Michigan
Detroit Eviction Defense
Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation
Detroit Justice Center
Detroit Solidarity & Defense
Detroit Will Breathe
East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC)
Field Street Block Club
General Baker Institute
Inside Southwest Detroit
James & Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership
Jewish Voice for Peace
Mama Akua House
Metro Detroit Democratic Socialists of America
Michigan Coalition of Rank & File Educators (MICORE)
Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition
Moratorium Now Coalition
Motor City Street Dance Academy
Movimiento Cosecha - Detroit
One Michigan for Immigrant Rights
Palestinian Youth Movement
Queer Pride Detroit
Rapid Response Detroit
Showing Up for Racial Justice Metro Detroit
St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Reverend Denise Griebler
Take On Hate
We The People of MI
We Want Green Too
Yemen Liberation Movement