Heard on All Things Considered

Detroit Police Release Protest Leader Tristan Taylor, Drop Riot Charges

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Image credit: Russ McNamara / WDET

Detroit Police initially detained Taylor for inciting a riot, but now say he did not advocate violence and is facing a misdemeanor charge for breaking curfew. Police are turning to Little Ceasers Arena to process arrestees staying out after curfew.

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Over 100 people were arrested in Tuesday night’s protests on Detroit’s East Side.

One of those arrested was activist Tristan Taylor with housing-rights group Detroit Renter City. He was one of the leaders of the march that ended near Gratiot and Connor.

We wanted to actually own the narrative that this is a black-led movement that is rooted in Detroit neighborhoods.” — Rai Lanier, Michigan Liberation

At a press conference today, Police Chief James Craig says Taylor was initially detained for inciting a riot, but clarified Taylor’s role in the protest. 

Tristan never advocated hurting police officers or members of this community and while he did violate the curfew and failed to follow an order given by a police officer – that’s the extent of it.”

Craig laid out the reason that charge was dropped. 

Number one – was there anybody that was significantly injured based on his role? Was there significant property damage? No there was not. Was there a death associated with his role? No.”

Taylor has been released and is still facing a misdemeanor charge of staying out past the 8:00 pm curfew.

Rai Lanier is an organizer with Michigan Liberation, which is providing legal support to protestors. She says people wanted to peacefully assemble where they live and police acted aggressively.

We wanted to actually own the narrative that this is a black-led movement that is rooted in Detroit neighborhoods, which is why we find ourselves on the East Side,” says Lanier.

Processing Detainees at LCA

Little Ceasers Arena has not been in use due to the COVID-19 pandemic.Jake Neher/WDET
Jake Neher/WDET

Little Ceasers Arena has not been in use due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Detroit Police say most of the protestors being arrested in anti-police demonstrations are from outside of the city. Craig says 127 people were detained and cited for being out past the curfew – with only 47 of them being city residents.

Craig says the influx led the department to adjust its strategy, turning to Little Caesars Arena.

They were kind enough to give us a location where we could process the prisoners before they went to the Detroit Detention Center,” Craig says. 

Chris Illitch, CEO of the company that owns the Detroit Red Wings and runs the arena, appeared alongside local business executives to acknowledge the protests — but not that LCA would be a holding cell for those arrested.

To the African American community: We see and hear you, we respect you, we stand with you,” Illitch said. 

More protests are planned for this evening at the Manoogian Mansion and Detroit Public Safety Headquarters.

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Eli Newman, Reporter/Producer

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.

eli.newman@wdet.org Follow @other_eli

Russ McNamara, Host, All Things Considered

Russ McNamara is the host of All Things Considered for 101.9 WDET, presenting local news to the station’s loyal listeners. While working as an audio engineer for ABC Sports, he was sprayed with champagne as the Detroit Pistons celebrated their championship in 2004.

russmcnamara@wdet.org

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