Detroit police arrest 42 people as protesters, authorities clash after weeks of calm

CLOSEDetroit police arrest 42 people as protesters, authorities
clash after weeks of calm 1

Detroit Will Breathe hosts a Statewide Day Of Action to demand the immediate end of operation legend and the withdrawal of federal agents. After a while, Detroit police and protesters clashed. Wochit

DETROIT – Police in Detroit arrested 42 people early Sunday in their first clash with protesters since the July 10 shooting of a man on the city’s west side.

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“Detroit Will Breathe” organizer Tristan Taylor said police in riot gear attacked protesters between 12:15 and 12:30 a.m. local time Sunday after marchers blocked a road in the heart of downtown to vehicular traffic. 

Taylor said the gathering was peaceful – even festive – at the end of a night of speakers and marching through downtown. Sometime after midnight, police in riot gear moved in, firing tear gas and making mass arrests.

Protesters have been assembling and marching through Detroit since shortly after George Floyd died on May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer kept his knee on Floyd’s neck. “Detroit Will Breathe” has lead marches for more than 80 days.

Taylor said Saturday night’s program began with some speeches and presentations outside the McNamara federal building. He said about 400 protesters marched throughout downtown before the remaining 100 or so decided to “occupy” Woodward Avenue. Taylor said the gathering was peaceful, with music played by a deejay.

CLOSEDetroit police arrest 42 people as protesters, authorities
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A volunteered observer with Michigan Liberation filmed this scene in Detroit on Aug. 22. Sections of this video have been blurred by the videographer. USA TODAY Handout

He said police in riot gear appeared south of the gathering and marched north up Woodward.

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“As they got close to us they started throwing tear gas at us,” Taylor said. “Then there was a flash bomb … Then they went in with riot shields and batons.”

A photographer posted a photo on Instagram of three police subduing a protester on the ground while a fourth officer sprayed something at the protester’s head. Videos taken by protesters and others, including a Detroit Free Press photographer, show tear gas deployed during the event.

Police said Sunday that they arrested 42 people for misdemeanor and felony offenses. Of those arrested, 18 are residents of the city and the remaining 24 came from outside of Detroit, including one from California, police said. 

Detroit Police Sgt. Nicole Kirkwood said protesters were given many warnings for over an hour to disperse as they had shut down lanes of traffic and were not marching. Kirkwood said they shut down the street and were in violation of city ordinances in doing so but the protesters refused to disassemble. 

“Detroit Will Breathe” recently began calling for the removal of federal agents who were sent to Detroit to help combat the rash of gun violence that has plagued the city this summer.

Taylor, who said he was among those arrested, said he did not believe federal agents were among those who advanced on protesters assembled on Woodward Avenue. 


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Kirkwood said a member of the media sent a video from the night showing an alleged excessive use of force, which has been handed over to the DPD’s Internal Professional Standards Department. 

It is unclear how many officers are being investigated or which video it is. 

Follow reporters M.L. Elrick (@elrick) and Meredith Spelbring (@mere0415) on Twitter.

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