Detroit Will Breathe, the Motor City’s BLM franchisee, won a hollow victory last week when a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order that bars Detroit police from using certain non-lethal tactics on “peaceful protesters.”
Detroit police chief James Craig responded to the TRO with a shrug. It changes nothing, he told reporters, because that’s how his department always handles peaceful protesters. “Every time we’ve had to use less-than-lethal force, it’s been to address violence by protesters, resisting arrest, or when they’ve tried to take over an intersection in violation of the law.” . . .
A few weeks ago, bored with peacefully marching all over without a news crew in sight, DWB decided to try occupying a major downtown intersection. After an hour of demonstrators defying orders to disperse, police moved in and arrested 44 DWB members, encountering the predictable violent resistance. When the inevitable hue and cry was raised over how rough some of the arrests were (“I’ve never seen a use of force that looks good,” Craig remarked), the chief stood his ground. “I am not going to let any group set up a Seattle zone of lawlessness here in the city of Detroit,” Craig said. “That is non-negotiable.” . . .
t the news briefing the day after the failed occupation, Deputy Chief Todd Bettison’s message for the group was also short and to the point: “Detroit Will Breathe, you are not welcome. Go.” Area leftists, who called Bettison’s message “blunt, if not anti-democratic,” took issue with the suggestion that most Detroiters weren’t happy with DWB’s agenda. The Metro Times, the area’s pinkish entertainment tabloid, argued illogically that Detroiters must support the protests because they’re “organized by Detroit activists.”
Because even the activists didn’t believe that, they quickly ran to federal court and filed a lawsuit against the police department, the city, Craig, and about a hundred officers, alleging they’d been victims of “excessive force,” arrested “en masse” without probable cause, and variously maltreated for no other reason than their peaceable stand against systemic racism. Federal lawsuits are a surefire way to attract media attention, at least for one news cycle; and even if you’re sure to lose in the end, you can demand an injunction on the first day, pleading all sorts of ugly stuff the other side must be immediately stopped from doing. If the judge grants your injunction (they’re temporary, and this one is for only two weeks), you get to claim victory. (Read more from “How Detroit’s Police Chief Saved His City From Black Lives Matter” HERE)