The city of Detroit has launched a counter-suit against activist leaders of Black Lives Matter protests over the summer, alleging that they and the group Detroit Will Breathe conspired to cause damage to the city and its residents.
The city filed its counter-suit in September less than a month after Detroit Will Breathe, an activist group operating out of Detroit, sued the city government and its police force for allegedly violating protesters’ rights during the summer’s crackdowns on civil unrest. The city alleged the activists committed “civil conspiracy” to cause mayhem throughout Detroit and harm its residents, The Intercept reported on Monday.
“Counter-Defendants illegally, maliciously, and wrongfully conspired with one another with the intent to and for the illegal purpose of disturbing the peace, engaging in disorderly conduct, inciting riots, destroying public property, resisting or obstructing officers in charge of duty, and committing acts of violence against Counter-Plaintiffs and DPD officers,” Detroit’s countersuit says.
A Detroit judge appeared to side with the activists in early September, issuing an order barring police from using non-lethal crowd-control tools such as “batons, shields, gas, rubber bullets, chokeholds or sound cannons” against “peaceful” protesters. The activists alleged that police had used excessive force to crack down on demonstrations that erupted in the aftermath of George Floyd’s May death in Minneapolis.
At the time, Detroit police chief James Craig said the restraining order would have no impact on how the police department handled protests and riots. Police officers would continue to use crowd-control tools on protests that escalated beyond “peaceful.”
As The Daily Wire reported at the time:
Detroit police say they have no problem with “peaceful protests,” which the judge referred to specifically in the order, but as the Detroit News noted just last week, the Detroit Police Department has had to take an aggressive stand when demonstrations turned potentially violent. They were also forced to take action to prevent an “autonomous zone” from taking shape in the city’s downtown, avoiding a situation like the one in Seattle, which resulted in the deaths of at least two people.
“Officers used force to prevent protesters from setting up a ‘Seattle zone of lawlessness’ during demonstrations that turned violent Saturday,” Detroit’s police chief told the outlet last Monday, noting that the Department has initiated internal investigations into any officer involved in a “skirmish” with protesters.
Craig has been an outspoken critic of the activists, asserting that they have been pushing for “total anarchy” and that their violent demonstrations have never been about race. In a September interview with Fox News, Craig slammed political leaders in other cities for ceding to the demands of often violent activists.
“This is total anarchy, and what’s obvious is there’s political leadership, I’ve said it before, who, not in all cities [but in] some cities, who are standing by and saying nothing in fear that they may then be attacked,” Craig said. “But the problem is they’re being attacked anyway, so you gotta understand what the true agenda is. It’s certainly not about race. It’s something much deeper than that, and we just need to start talking about it, and we need to stand up and call it what it is: total anarchy.”