Mayor: National Groups Infiltrating Detroit Protests To Instigate Violence

WWJ News
June 02, 2020 - 4:52 pm

(WWJ) Despite a more peaceful night of protest, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says the city "remains at risk" from those who want to cause trouble and instigate violence.

"We have to be not under any illusions," the mayor said at a Tuesday press briefing. "You just look at what's happening around this country — there are people intentionally sewing division and destruction. There is no question about it."

A nightly curfew in the city remains in effect through Sunday. Under the mayor executive order, people are still permitted to go to and from work, to handle an emergency, or to directly to and from a business to buy goods or services. 

Duggan said while he supports peaceful demonstrators who abide by curfew orders, an "intense" investigation into violent instigators is ongoing. 

The mayor asserts that unnamed national groups are behind the efforts to destroy cities and create chaos — people, he says, who want to do damage to Detroit. 

"They are very much on the ground, they are very much trying to instigate" Duggan said. "And just as the national groups are hiding anonymously behind text messages and internet posts, the people on the ground in Detroit with the railroad spikes and the fireworks, the walkie talkies, they're hiding under the cover of darkness." 

For the past four nights, protesters have packed downtown streets.

At 4 p.m. Tuesday, protesters gathered outside Detroit Police HQ for a fifth march. 

While the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis has been the catalyst, protesters say they're demonstrating against decades of unjust treatment of people of color by law enforcement. 

Detroit police said 40 people were arrested Monday night for violating curfew, but some of those were released because it was determined they were dispersing and going to their cars. That was after Detroit police made 110 arrests Sunday, deploying pepper spray and rubber bullets to disperse crowd. 

Deputy Chief Todd Bettison says he was trying to avoid violence when he spoke and knelt with protesters gathered outside of Detroit Police Headquarters.

"I understand the anger for what happened to George Floyd," Bettison said, getting emotional as he spoke at Tuesday news conference. "So, with that being said, I kneeled...and someone from the crowd tossed something, you know, at one of our officers. Tear gas was deployed, and they dispersed. But my heart was heavy because I didn't accomplish what I wanted to." 

Detroit Police Chief James Craig said most of the protest troublemakers, and most people who've been arrested, were not Detroit residents. Many, he said, were from Macomb County while others were from as far away as Tennessee and Washington D.C.