Duggan on Police Driving Into Protesters: “What Are You Supposed to Do?”

A Detroit Police SUV drove through a group of demonstrators protesting systemic racism and police violence. City authorities say the officer believed they were in danger, but protest leader Tristan Taylor says they provoked the incident.

A video shows a Detroit police vehicle accelerating through a crowd of protesters on Sunday night in Southwest Detroit. Protesters surrounded the stopped vehicle and chanted before the SUV accelerates into the crowd and drives away.

Scroll down for video of the incident and reactions from Mayor Mike Duggan, Detroit Police Chief James Craig and Detroit Will Breathe leader Tristan Taylor.

On Monday morning, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said on Detroit Today that he hadn’t seen the full report on the incident, but defended the intent of the action. 

“If you’re sitting in that police car and suddenly you’re blocked, there is a large crowd around you, they’re banging on the door, pulling at the door, climbing onto the car, what are you supposed to do?” Duggan said. 

As of Monday morning it’s unclear how many people might have been injured or the extent of those injuries. 

Listen: Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan reacts to Detroit police vehicle driving through crowd of protesters.

Video of Incident Circulates

Detroit Police Chief James Craig is a statement Monday afternoon defended the officers actions, saying they were attempting to remove themselves from a potentially dangerous situation, reports Deadline Detroit. He said an investigation of officers and demonstrators actions are underway. 

In an interview with CultureShift’s Amanda LeClaire, demonstration leader Tristan Taylor — who did not witness the incident first-hand — said if police had not been present the rally would have ended peacefully. 

Listen: Detroit Will Breathe Leader Tristan Taylor on the lead-up to the ramming and what this says about Detroit police. 

“Everything started when the police tried to block the march from continuing down Vernor, and force it down Dix for no reason,” Taylor said. “Had the police done nothing, the whole rally and march would have been over in 30 minutes with no incident. What [the officer] does is completely unprovoked, I might add, because the other [police] car also didn’t have the same reaction.”

Taylor said this is indicative of a failure of leadership at the department, and called for Chief Craig’s resignation. 

“It’s time for him to go,” Taylor said. “This is just one in a string of incidents where it is clear that he runs a very loose, rogue ship.”

Also on Detroit Today

Facial Recognition

“I do oppose facial recognition for surveillance. At no point do we use facial recognition to track live camera video. The technology is not good. It does not match. Period. We do not do it.” — Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan

Duggan also discusses Detroit police use of facial recognition software software. Last week, Stephen Henderson spoke with Robert Williams, the man who was falsely arrested after facial recognition software wrongly matched him to an image of someone suspected of shoplifting in Detroit. Duggan says he feels terrible about that case, but says it’s not proof that police shouldn’t be using the software.

The mayor released a statement last summer that said: “I strongly oppose the use of facial recognition technology for surveillance. The Detroit Police Department does not and will not use facial recognition technology to track or follow people in the City of Detroit. Period. Detroiters should not ever have to worry that the camera they see at a gas station or a street corner is trying to find them or track them.”

The mayor says that statement was true then and is true now.

“I do oppose facial recognition for surveillance. At no point do we use facial recognition to track live camera video. The technology is not good. It does not match. Period. We do not do it,” Duggan tells Henderson. “When we have a still picture of a violent criminal, and we’ve got 20,000 people in a mug book, what the board of police commissioners doe is that it matches to the mug book.”

Auto Insurance

“Rates will come down dramatically. I’m not sure if we’ll still be the highest (rates) in the country. I think we’ll know that a year from now.” — Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

This week Michigan drivers will finally see the effects of the overhaul of our auto insurance laws more than a year after the law was signed. And here in the city of Detroit, there is particular focus on whether premiums and other charges will go down.

The mayor says it’s important for drivers to know what options they have so that they can lower their rates as much as possible while still having the level of protection they need.

“Rates will come down dramatically,” Duggan says. “I’m not sure if we’ll still be the highest [rates] in the country. I think we’ll know that a year from now.”

Detroit Today Student Producer Lauryn Azu contributed to this story.

Editor’s Note, 2:40 pm: This story has been updated with new information and reporting.

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  • Detroit Today
    Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.
  • Amanda LeClaire
    Amanda LeClaire is an award-winning host and producer of CultureShift on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. She’s a founding producer of WDET’s flagship news talk show Detroit Today, and a former host/reporter for Arizona Public Media. Amanda is also an artist, certified intuitive and energy healer, and professional tarot reader.