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Heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition

Feds Send Officers, Funds to Stem Detroit Violence, Citing Protest Rhetoric

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Image credit: Russ McNamara / WDET

Federal officials say “Operation Legend” will target gun crime, but anti-police brutality organizers say it will just add to existing tensions.

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Detroit is one of several cities tapped by the Trump administration for an increased federal law enforcement presence to stem a surge in violent crime.  

Late last year in Detroit, U.S. Attorney General William Barr announced a flood of federal agents into the city. Hundreds of arrests were made in the past six months, but officials say shootings have risen by 51% over this time in 2019.  

Police violence doesn’t solve gun violence. What does solve it is better education, community resources.” — Nakia Wallace, protest organizer

Dubbed “Operation Legend,” this influx of federal agents and nearly $5 million in grant money is address the increase in crime.

Speaking at a news conference this morning, U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider says the agents are not here to interfere with peaceful protests. 

Let me be perfectly clear about what Operation Legend is not,” Schneider says. “There are no federal troops coming to Detroit or any other area in Michigan to interfere with protesters.” 

But he says recent protests against police brutality are a potential cause for the rise in violence.  

There is a great amount of disrespect and hatred of police officers in our country right now,” Schneider said. ”And when people do not trust and they dislike the police that escalates tension in the community itself.”  

Wallace leads a peaceful protest in June in Detroit.Russ McNamara
Russ McNamara

Wallace leads a peaceful protest in June in Detroit.

Nakia Wallace, an organizer for the anti-police brutality protests in Detroit, says there’s always been mistrust of cops in the city.

If you go into the poorest neighborhoods in any Black and brown city in this country, there’s always been an anti-police sentiment,” Wallace said. “But what’s also been true is that the police have also had an anti-black and anti-brown sentiment.”  

Wallace said that money would best be spent on helping people in the community.  

Police violence doesn’t solve gun violence,” Wallace said. ”What does solve it is better education. What does solve it as community resources. What does solve it is putting actual funds and care into communities that have been devastated.”

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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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