Detroit Police Chief James Craig said Thursday that his city has already “sent a message” that it will not “tolerate looting and burning buildings” and that’s why it’s taking Black Lives Matter (BLM) to court.
Detroit is suing the activist group for “civil conspiracy” and “illegal acts.”
“We sent a message this summer. We weren’t going to have a lawless zone like they had in Seattle,” Craig told Fox Business Network’s “The Evening Edit.”
“We sent a message. We weren’t going to tolerate looting and burning buildings. We sent a message. We didn’t retreat in Detroit. Because we didn’t retreat and they couldn’t get traction with Detroiters, they’re angry. So create a false narrative,” he said. (RELATED: ‘Broken System’: Police Chief Criticizes Mental Health System For Deadly Police Shooting)
Craig said the violent protest fostered by BLM and other extremists was often observed by “journalists embedded, walking with the protests. Many of them saw the aggressive actions, the attacks on the police officers, attacking our police vehicles but some of them have opted to say nothing.”
Craig, who was a young boy when riots hit Detroit in the late 1960s, says today’s violent protests are “so different” from the turmoil of that period. “This is a wide scale, orchestrated, planned effort that we have not seen at anytime. You know when we were having riots in the late ’60s, these were individual cities. We didn’t have social media or the internet. Frankly, Detroit has grown beyond it.”
The police chief dismissed criticism from Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib, whose Congressional district is in Detroit. Craig noted that Tlaib has condemned the court action against BLM and called it an assault on Constitutional rights. “That’s absolutely wrong,” said Craig.
Craig noted that the Detroit police supported all peaceful protests in the city and only “seven times over the course of the 100 days did we have to use force,” adding that the two reasons for doing so were when police officers were attacked or when police “were making a lawful arrest and there was resistance.”
Craig rejected the assertion that all unrest in the city was “peaceful” and that police action was an immediate infringement upon the First Amendment rights of citizens.
Craig declared victory over violent protest, saying “People expected Detroit to burn but Detroit didn’t burn because this community, by and large stands with us.” He blamed “the outside agitators that came in and embedded themselves with largely peaceful protesters” for trying to incite violent acts. He claimed many of these individuals come from across the United States and “as far away as California. They came here with one agenda, one agenda only.”
In September, Craig was critical of U.S. District Court Judge Laurie Michelson, who issued a temporary restraining order after activists from Detroit Will Breathe launched a lawsuit against the city that charges the police with using excessive force when opposing unruly demonstrations.
On Wednesday, Craig also called out Tlaib for claiming “she is unaware of violence — it’s laughable.” (RELATED: Detroit Police Chief Says His City ‘Wouldn’t Stand For’ A Seattle-Style Autonomous Zone)
The chief has locked horns with Tlaib in the past. Craig objected when the congresswoman told him that only black people should be allowed to operate his police department’s new facial recognition technology.
During the summer unrest, Craig oversaw the arrest of a 20-year-old male who was charged with assaulting an elderly nursing home resident.
BLM was linked to 91% of riots over a three month period, one study found.