The Coalition for Police Transparency and Accountability on Tuesday rejected the President Trump administration’s Operation Legend initiative, called for the Detroit Police Department to “end violence” against Black Lives Matter protesters and urged Detroit Police Chief James Craig to resign.
“The level of violence and the attacks on observers and demonstrators repeats a pattern in other cities where the Trump administration has been involved. Beating, lacerating and pepper spraying nonviolent protesters is never acceptable,” according to the 15-member coalition that includes the ACLU of Michigan, Detroit Council of Elders, National Lawyers Guild, Detroit Justice Center and Moratorium Now.
The coalition added that in a mass meeting following the Aug. 22 action, participants reported “Detroit Police charged the crowd with batons and shields, not to arrest people engaging in alleged unlawful behavior, but rather to fight and attack unarmed people.”
In late July, Matthew Schneider, U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Michigan, announced details of a plan to send federal agents to Detroit. The city of Detroit received 44 Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) agents and 12 Federal Bureau of Investigation agents. Some will have permanent jobs; others will be temporarily assigned.
The organization reacted to the Aug. 22 confrontation between protesters and police in Detroit, where 44 people were arrested.
“I am not going to let any group set up a Seattle zone of lawlessness here in the city of Detroit,” Craig said during a news conference on Aug. 24. “That is non-negotiable.”
“We believe this brutal, unacceptable increase in police violence and attacks stems from the Trump administration’s influence through [U.S.] Attorney General [William] Barr who has been working closely with James Craig,” the group said. “It has increased the urgency of our call for Craig to step down and for Detroit Police to end the attacks on unarmed people exercising their First Amendment rights.”
The announcement comes one day after the anti-police brutality group Detroit Will Breathe filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Detroit.
“The Detroit Police Department must end its liaison with the most openly racist U.S. president in living memory,” the coalition statement read. “We demand the immediate end of police violence against protestors and observers. We demand the immediate resignation of Police Chief James Craig.”
In a joint statement issued on July 29, Craig and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan supported Operation Legend.
“So long as those staff are used in the continuing effort to enforce federal laws on illegal gun trafficking and gang violence, DPD will continue its strong partnership with those agencies,” they said