DETROIT, MI—A total of 42 people were arrested on Saturday, August 22 during a clash between protesters and police in downtown Detroit.
Protesters from the Detroit organization Detroit Will Breathe gathered at the intersection of Woodward and John R on Saturday in objection to Operation Legend, which sent approximately 42 federal agents to the city to address gun violence.
In the organization’s Facebook post, they claimed Operation Legend was sent to Detroit to “criminalize and terrorize Black and Brown communities.”
Video from Saturday’s demonstrations depicts protesters gathering on Woodward Avenue chanting at police in tactical uniforms, “We don’t see no riots here. Why are you in riot gear.”
Early Sunday morning, authorities released pepper spray onto the crowd and struck protestors with weapons. Protesters were forcefully removed from Woodward Avenue, but gathered on Clifford Avenue where the demonstration picked back up again before fizziling out early Sunday morning.
Demonstrators gathered later on August 23, to denounce the police’s actions and the arrest of 42 individuals the night before.
Tristan Taylor of Detroit Will Breathe told a crowd of around 50 people Sunday, “The issue isn’t that they arrested us. The issue is the brutality. When you do something to get arrested you expect arrest, but not burally beaten. We weren’t doing anything to get brutally beaten.”
Taylor also accused Detroit Police Chief James Craig of not believing people should be treated with respect.
Craig later noted in a press conference Taylor’s claims are “completely false and inaccurate.”
Detroit police spokesperson, Sergeant Nicole Kirkwood, noted in a press conference that protesters were standing at the intersection of Woodward and John R with construction barriers, blocking all four lanes of traffic.
“Dozens of warnings were given to them before any arrests were made…They were advised they were blocking traffic by blocking all four lanes of Woodward and John R and that they were assembling unlawfully,” said Sgt. Kirkwood. The Detroit Police Department is not going to “tolerate people blocking the public streets.”
Kirkwood said that any instances of alleged excessive force will be investigated. Of those arrested at Saturday’s demonstrations, 18 lived in the city of Detroit and 25 lived outside the city, including one person from California.
All but one person arrested, who is connected to weapons charges, has been released. Some protestors showed up to Sunday’s meeting limping, bruised, and in arm casts from encounters with police the night before.