Detroit Police Chief Craig says he's no 'Sambo'


  • Screenshot from Detroit Police Department press conference livestream
  • Detroit Police Chief James Craig.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig fired back at a black activist group for giving him and another city official “Sambo Awards.”

The "Call ‘Em Out Coalition" issued the annual awards Thursday to Craig and Detroit Water and Sewerage Department Director Gary Brown, who has overseen water shutoffs for tens of thousands of Detroiters.

The group’s president, African American activist Agnes Hitchcock, said the police department has become increasingly white under Craig's leadership because he's failed to recruit enough black officers.

Craig also has been criticized for quickly dismissing an internal investigation that found racism in the department.

“Sambo” has a long history as a racial slur, which Craig described as “step it and fetch it, overly apologetic to whites.”

“I’m not going to be quiet about it,” Craig during a 10-minute press conference at the police headquarters. “It’s hurtful. It’s insensitive.”

Craig defended his recruitment efforts.

“We work extremely hard in this police department to recruit Detroiters and African Americans,” Craig said.

Stay on top of Detroit news and views. Sign up for our weekly issue newsletter delivered each Wednesday.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.