Tuesday’s protest in Detroit led to 127 arrests — the largest number since demonstrations demanding justice for George Floyd and an end to police brutality began in the city on May 29. During a press conference this afternoon, Detroit Police Chief James Craig said most were arrested for violating the city’s 8 p.m. curfew, which has been in effect since Sunday.
Forty-seven of those arrested last night were Detroit residents. Most of the other protestors who were arrested were from the surrounding suburbs, but six came from out of state.
“It was so clear to me over the last several days, so many — our residents, community leaders, activists — have resoundingly said, “Go home. We don’t want you here,’” Craig said, adding that some protestors who reportedly live outside the city have engaged in violent acts.
Detroit protest organizer Tristan Taylor was also arrested and charged with inciting a riot, which was later changed to a misdemeanor for resisting and not following orders. Taylor was released today.
Craig said some protestors planned to defy the curfew and exchanged information while they were marching earlier in the day so they could get legal advice quickly if they were arrested. A portion of the participants stopped protesting when the curfew hit.
“It is not our desire to arrest protestors,” Craig said. “That’s not the outcome that this department’s looking for. When we talk about peaceful protest, that’s the expectation. Again, we knew that there was a high likelihood that there would be some that would not comply [with the curfew].”
According to the Detroit Free Press, a group of protestors continued to peacefully march past the 8 p.m. curfew on Tuesday. Around 8:30, police officers urged them to disperse, and about 15 minutes later, officers began deploying pepper spray and making arrests.
Protest co-organizer Nakia-Renne Wallace, who is Taylor’s niece, also tells the paper that protestors were arrested using zip-tie handcuffs and taken to Little Caesars Arena to be processed.
Metro Times, meanwhile, reports that Detroit Police Department officers kneeled — a nod to NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s silent protest, and a way to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and to de-escalate standoffs — after the arrests.
Tuesday marked the fifth protest in Detroit. Since Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police on May 25, protests have also taken place in Michigan cities such as Ferndale, Royal Oak, Warren, Troy, and Grand Rapids.