Protesters to meet with Mayor Duggan this week over demands for criminal justice reforms


Protesters march in downtown Detroit on Thursday. - STEVE NEAVLING
  • Steve Neavling
  • Protesters march in downtown Detroit on Thursday.

Protesters are planning to meet with Mayor Mike Duggan this week to discuss their demands after 10 straight days of demonstrations in Detroit over police brutality and systemic racism.

Demonstrators are calling for numerous criminal justice reforms, including defunding the police department, ending Project Green Light, abolishing tax foreclosures, and creating more accountability for abusive cops.

About a third of the city’s $1 billion budget goes to the Detroit Police Department. Protesters want the city to reallocate much of that money to social services and other community resources.

Duggan’s office confirmed the mayor plans to meet with protesters this week.

“We’re working on setting the date and time with them now,” Duggan’s spokesman John Roach tells Metro Times. “Expect it to be in the next day or two.”

In an interview with right-wing Fox News, Chief James Craig scoffed at calls to defund the police department.

“It’s a knee-jerk reaction, not well thought out, and frankly this one-size-fits-all is just misguided,” Craig said.

Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman Laura Cox retweeted the interview Monday morning, saying the "'defund the police'” rhetoric is dangerous, and only threatens to expose our communities to more risk."

Other cities are beginning to meet some of the demands of protesters. In Minneapolis, where four police officers were involved in the death of George Floyd, officials banned the use of chokeholds and neck restraints. A majority of the Minneapolis City Council has pledged to “begin the process of ending” the police department.

In California, the governor ordered an end to the use of so-called “sleeper holds,” which block the flow of blood to the brain.

Defunding the police is not as radical as many people think. For some, it means reducing the police budget and transferring the money to other forms of public safety, such as housing, mental healthcare, and substance abuse.

Protesters point out that the roots of the current American policing system are racist, beginning with slave patrols. After emancipation, newly freed Black Americans were pushed into forced labor for crimes like “vagrancy.” Prisons are disproportionately filled with Black people.

Local protesters also want to reestablish the residency requirement for police. Studies have long shown that police are less likely to use excessive force if they live in the city in which they work.

Other demands include ending pre-trial detention, expunging crimes that are older than 15 years, removing police from Detroit public schools, releasing non-violent offenders from prison, decriminalizing recreational drugs, and more stringent punitive charges against abusive cops.

In the past week, Detroit police have arrested more than 300 protesters, a vast majority of whom were peaceful. Numerous complaints have been lodged against DPD for firing rubber bullets, tear gas, and flash bang grenades into peaceful crowds, using excessive force to enforce the curfew, and arresting journalists and legal observers.

A 24-year-old woman says Detroit police struck her with a rubber bullet last week, causing a skull-splitting brain injury.

Similar scenes have played out across the country, demonstrating the need to drastically reform policing.

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