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Tensions rise between Detroit police, activist group

Video shows members of New Era Detroit fighting with DPD officers


DETROIT – Recorded confrontations show members of the activist group New Era Detroit fighting with Detroit police officers.

Police are concerned about the group's growing aggressiveness, while New Era Detroit is suing the Police Department for harassment and excessive use of force.

"Saying to a law enforcement officer, 'Die, I hope you die, I hope you die a miserable death.' That is totally crossing the line," DPD Cmdr. Todd Bettison said. "To see the derogatory terms that they've used, that is very disturbing and it hurts me to my core."

DPD pulled over a New Era Detroit member who said he was on a community patrol but didn't have his driver's license. He was also flashing illegal green lights.

When police tried to arrest the man, armed members of New Era Detroit showed up and blocked officers from towing the car.

"The officer was very fearful," Bettison said. "I haven't heard an officer scream, 'Priority' like that on the radio in a long time."

New Era Detroit said several people were physically assaulted during the arrest.

"We're alleging in the lawsuit that we have been the victims of several instances of harassment by the Detroit Police Department, as well as several occasions where we have been subjected to their poor training and tactics," Mikera Manning said.

Earlier this month, police were called for a disturbance on the West Side and a brawl broke out.

"You may not agree with the language you hear, you may not agree with the passion, but it comes from a good place and it comes from a place of uplifting," Manning said.

"Their goal is to create a situation where they're trying to go at the Detroit Police Department and create a situation that will cause violence in this city," Bettison said.

DPD officials said it's not harassment when members of the public call them to a protest. They said they support the right to organize, but that protesters cross the line when they prevent officers from doing their job.

New Era Detroit said it plans to stay out in the community and keep increasing its membership.