Community activist Tristan Taylor was released by Detroit Police on Wednesday. He considered that night's protest to be a "victory march."
It looks like Detroit's Police Department is beginning to understand that symbolic gestures of solidarity only have impact if they're backed up by action, cooperating with and supporting peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters on Wednesday as the city entered its sixth day of demonstrations.
Earlier that day, DPD released community leader Tristan Taylor, who was being held on charges of inciting a riot. Afterward, they decided not to enforce Mayor Mike Duggan's 8 p.m. curfew and in fact helped escort the protesters throughout the city, leading Taylor to declare it a "victory march."
The about-face comes after a showdown on Tuesday saw DPD arrest more than 100 peaceful protesters who had shut down Gratiot Avenue on the east side. Minutes after arresting the protesters, DPD took a symbolic knee with members of the community as a hollow sign of solidarity
with the movement.
A similar scene played out on Sunday, with Deputy Chief Todd Bettison kneeling with protesters just before DPD fired tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd.
Taylor was one of those arrested on Tuesday. While most of the rest of the protesters were released after being processed at a holding facility at Little Caesars Arena, Taylor was held on charges of inciting a riot, leading his supporters to call him a "political prisoner." Taylor was released on lesser charges.
"I understand the pain," Craig told reporters. "They want their voices heard."
Detroit activist Tristan Taylor organized Detroit's Black Lives Matter protests. “We say this is America’s problem, right?” he says. “If this is America’s problem, it’s actually the obligation and duty of America to stand with Black and brown bodies.”
There are other reasons the protesters should feel victorious. Earlier on Wednesday, Minnesota authorities issued more charges against police officers involved in the death of George Floyd, who died after officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes as three other officers looked on. Chauvin's charges were raised to second-degree murder, and the other three officers present were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced reforms for Michigan police
, including implicit bias training, de-escalation techniques, and requiring officers to intervene when they see other officers use excessive force, among others measures.
Detroit police arrested about 300 protesters in the past week. The most came on Tuesday, when police arrested 127 people. No arrests were made on Wednesday.
Detroit's Black Lives Matter protests continue for a seventh day on Thursday.
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