Detroit Police Arrest, Use Force Against Protestors In Saturday Demonstration

Police officials say the use of force seen in videos circulating online was justified, claiming the group was attempting to occupy the intersection. At least three incidents of force are being investigated by police.


Dozens of anti-police brutality protesters were arrested during a march in downtown Detroit on Saturday night.  

Physical clashes between protestors and officers have waned since the police killing of Hakim Littleton last month. But that changed when about 150 marchers led by “Detroit Will Breathe,” a protest group, took to Woodward Ave. on Saturday in a demonstration calling for the removal of federal agents and an end to “Operation Legend,” an anti-violent crime program launched by the Justice Department. 

“Occupying space and blocking the streets in our city will not be tolerated.” — Detroit Police Chief James Craig

A video shared by the group shows marchers standing off with officers equipped with gas masks, shields and batons. Detroit police deploy tear gas as they rush the crowd to make arrests. 

Detroit Police Chief James Craig said he was concerned that the group was attempting to occupy an intersection, like similar protests in Seattle and Portland, Ore.

Officers in riot gear rushed the group with shields and batons, using tear gas to disperse the marchers and make arrests. Craig said the protestors resisted calls to leave on their own.

Force “is not the objective,” Craig said. But “occupying space and blocking the streets in our city will not be tolerated.”

Deputy Chief Todd Bettison said protestors are not allowed to block traffic.

“Detroit Will Breathe, you are not welcome,” Bettison said. “Go. It’s just not working.”

Critics of Detroit Police say the use of force over the weekend went too far. DPD is investigating at least three complaints made against police over the weekend’s protests.

Anti-brutality demonstrations in Detroit have passed 90 days since the Memorial Day killing of Minneapolis Black man George Floyd sparked an international movement against police violence and systemic racism. 

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  • Eli Newman

    Eli Newman is a Reporter/Producer for 101.9 WDET, covering breaking news, politics and community affairs. His favorite Motown track is “It’s The Same Old Song” by the Four Tops.

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    Russ McNamara is the host of All Things Considered for 101.9 WDET, presenting local news to the station’s loyal listeners. He's been an avid listener of WDET since he moved to metro Detroit in 2002.