Whitmer, Nessel blast Trump threat to dispatch federal law enforcement to Detroit

Detroit protest of George Floyd's killing, May 29, 2020 | Anna Liz Nichols

President Donald Trump threatened on Monday to send federal law enforcement into Detroit and other U.S. cities amid Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality. 

“I’m going to do something — that, I can tell you because we’re not going to let New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit and Baltimore,” Trump said. “Oakland is a mess. We’re not going to let this happen in our country. All run by liberal Democrats.”

Federal authorities have been on the ground in Portland, Ore., during recent demonstrations there in an apparent test run. Officers in unmarked cars have arrested people without explanation, according to a USA Today report. The New York Times reports that federal agents in Portland also beat a Navy veteran with a baton and doused him with pepper spray.

“In Portland they’ve done a fantastic job,” Trump said on Monday as reported by The Hill.   

AG Barr announces federal crackdown on Detroit crime, MDOC wasn’t given notice

Analysts have said Trump is attempting to win back white suburban voters, particularly women, who have abandoned him as he faces a tough reelection, particularly over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Polling, however, indicates support for Black Lives Matter and police reforms.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel pushed back on Trump later on Monday.

“It is deeply disturbing that President Trump is once again choosing to spread hateful rhetoric and attempting to suppress the voices of those he doesn’t agree with,” said Whitmer. “Quite frankly, the president doesn’t know the first thing about Detroit. If he did, he would know that for nearly two months now, Detroiters have gathered to peacefully protest the systemic racism and discrimination that Black Americans face every day. 

“There is no reason for the president to send federal troops into a city where people are demanding change peacefully and respectfully. If the president actually wants to help the people of Michigan, he can start by picking up the phone and telling [U.S. Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to pass the HEROES Act, so we can provide immediate relief to Michigan’s families, schools, and small businesses.”

Whitmer supports banning chokeholds, making racially motivated 911 calls hate crimes

Nessel, Michigan’s chief law enforcement officer, agreed with Whitmer.

“President Trump’s politically motivated threat to send ‘more federal law enforcement’ to Detroit, among other cities, has nothing to do with protecting public health or safety,” Nessel said. “It is about using the power of his office as a cudgel to punish those who use their constitutionally guaranteed rights to express views he disagrees with. 

“Such threats undermine peace and stability in our communities by unnecessarily escalating tensions and encroaching on states’ rights. We are a nation of laws, and the president’s attempts to intimidate our communities with threats of violence could not be more un-American.”

Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.