DETROIT – Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan held a press conference Tuesday with Police Chief James Craig and Health Officer Denise Fair to provide an update on the city’s response to recent protests and the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Duggan, Craig and Detroit Police Deputy Chief Todd Bettison praised those who protested Monday after the demonstration ended peacefully for the first time since protests began Friday.
The fourth night of protests in Detroit against police brutality in the name of George Floyd ended peacefully for the first time since demonstrations began Downtown on Friday.
Monday’s protest against police brutality in the name of George Floyd began with a rally outside of Detroit Police Department headquarters on Monday afternoon. The group of 300-400 then marched through Corktown, Mexicantown then returned to Downtown Detroit. When they got to downtown they combined with another 150 protesters as the city’s curfew set in.
Though there was some tension, officials praised the actions of a few protestors who helped keep the crowds calm and encouraged them to disperse after the march. Officials say Monday’s protest differed from previous protests as it was led by young people who were intent on remaining peaceful.
"We can do this without tearing down our city,” Duggan said. "It (Monday) was a special night because the protest wasn’t led by the normal groups, it wasn’t led by adults -- it was led by a group of young people, our next generation of leaders. I’m feeling like the future of our city may be in good hands.”
Chief Craig said 40 individuals were initially arrested for violating the curfew on Monday night, but tickets were revoked from some individuals who were just trying to get back to their car so they could leave.
Deputy Chief Bettison also showed praise for Monday’s protestors for demonstrating without violence. In an emotional testimony, Bettison addressed an interaction with protestors on Sunday night -- an evening in which tear gas was deployed and many more arrests occurred downtown.
Bettison said he observed the protestors’ and officers’ opposing front lines on Sunday after curfew set in, and he was concerned that violence would ensue. In response Bettison approached the protestors and listened to their grievances and their requests -- one being a request for law enforcement to kneel in support of the protestors’ cause.
Bettison agreed to kneel with the protestors on behalf of the police force, saying his and his officers’ hearts also ache over the killing of black Minneapolis man George Floyd. The deputy chief said his peers responded positively to his demonstration of support.
“I’ve got nothing but love from white officers, black officers, everybody thanking me for kneeling to support George Floyd,” Bettison said. “Nothing but thanks.”
Officials said they hope the peaceful demonstrations can continue in Detroit. The city’s curfew will remain in effect as most violence and damage is committed at night, Duggan said. People are not allowed to be in public spaces and on public roads after 8 p.m.
In coronavirus news, Detroit Health Officer Denise Fair announced during the briefing a new website that will help Detroit business owners navigate reopening as Michigan moves into phase 4 of Gov. Whitmer’s MI Safe Start Plan.
Fair says Detroiters will begin to see things “move back to normal” as businesses are allowed to soon reopen with restrictions in place. Officials say the city is experiencing 1% COVID-19 infection rates -- a significant feat after leading the state in virus cases and deaths since March.