Detroit Police Chief James Craig.
Detroit Police Chief James Craig said armed neo-Nazis who marched with riot shields during Motor City Pride over the weekend “wanted a Charlottesville No. 2.”
Craig was referring to a “Unite the Right rally”
in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12, 2017, when white supremacists clashed with counterprotesters and a car plowed into a group of anti-racist protesters, killing a 32-year-old woman and injuring 19 others.
During a press conference Monday afternoon, Craig said police gathered “intelligence” that suggested members of the National Socialist Movement “were trying to bait the police department and the other side” into resorting to violence.
Despite the dangers, neither the city nor the police notified the public.
On Saturday, about a dozen neo-Nazis marched, tore up a rainbow flag and hurled insults at the LGBTQ+ community. About the same number of police officers created a barrier around the neo-Nazis.
Asked why police protected white supremacists who advocate violence, Craig said the “No. 1 mission was to keep the peace.”
“We took no sides,” Craig said. “Everyone has a right to freedom of speech. You don’t have a right to engage in unlawful conduct.”
The chief claimed “both sides at different times were using racial epithets” aimed at black officers.
“Both sides were wrong,” Craig said, offering no evidence that anti-fascists used racial epithets.
No one was injured during the protest, the chief said.
“We view this as a success because no one was hurt.”
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