U.S. District Court Judge Laurie J. Michelson grants 14 t0 28 day restraining order vs. DPD’s use of excessive force against protesters

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, State Sen. Stephanie Chang, 2 City Council members call for independent probe into DPD violence against protesters

Judge Michelson cites evidence from videos and other sources affirming claims of ‘Detroit Will Breathe’ re: unprovoked, brutal attacks, injuries

DPD Chief James Craig earlier that day claimed protesters have been violent  “outsiders, agitators, in some instances domestic terrorists”  

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By Diane Bukowski

Sept. 5, 202o Updated Sept. 9, 2020

DETROIT– In a resounding ruling Sept. 4, U.S. District Court Judge Laurie Michelson enjoined the Detroit Police Department from further use of beatings, tear gas, rubber bullets, chokeholds and mass arrests against Detroit Will Breathe protesters for the next 14 to 28 days.

DWB responded that the ruling is  “… a victory to be sure, but it is the first battle in what’s about to be a long war.”

In the wake of the court ruling, U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), State Sen. Stephanie Chang, and Detroit City Council Members Mary Sheffield and Raquel Castañeda-López sent a letter Sept. 8 to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Detroit Police Chief James Craig, and the City of Detroit Board of Police Commissioners demanding an immediate “full and independent” probe into the DPD’s alleged use of excessive force as cited by Judge Michelson.

But Craig and BOPC chairman Willie Bell continued to “gaslight” (as DWB leader Tristan Taylor said) both the federal Judge’s TRO and the letter from national and local leaders, denying all allegations without further investigation.

Judge Michelson ruled on a motion for a temporary restraining order filed by Detroit Will Breathe and 14 individual plaintiffs Aug. 31.

Her opinion validated the claims of hundreds of local participants, Black and white, largely youthful, in an ongoing global uprising against police violence sparked by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis May 25.

The ruling landed on the eve of the 100th day of daily marches, just hours after Detroit Police Chief James Craig called protesters “outsiders, agitators and in some instances domestic terrorists,” as he spoke outside DPD headquarters downtown.

Protesters under arrest in the streets during police attack Aug. 22, 2020 Photo: Adam J. Dewey

Judge Michelson addressed various affidavits and exhibits presented by the plaintiffs.

Police beating of DWB medic Alexander Anest Aug. 22, 202

She said, “One of the affidavits contains Instagram links to video footage of an encounter between police and protestors on August 22, 2020. This video footage appears to show a line of Detroit police officers, dressed in riot gear and armed with batons, standing several feet away from protestors who can be heard chanting, ‘we don’t see no riots here, so why are you in riot gear?’

“This continues for several minutes. Then, suddenly, the officers appear to throw tear gas canisters into the crowd of protestors.

Kevin Kwart, severely beaten by cops after he offered shelter to protesters fleeing them.

“The police officers then advance on the crowd and grab, shove, and use batons to beat people standing at the front of the group. There is also footage of officers pursuing individuals who are running or walking away from the chaos, apparently not posing any threat, and violently shoving them into the ground or a building.”

She noted that she is not alone in issuing the temporary restraining order requested.

“Court notes that in issuing a TRO, it joins the approach taken by its sister courts in a number of cities who have analyzed similar claims and issued similar injunctions.”

Judge Michelson cited orders issued by judges across the U.S., including “Don’t Shoot Portland; Black Lives Matter Seattle; Anti Police-Terror Project v. City of Oakland.” (cites omitted.)

See full order at  http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/DWB-Judge-Michelson-TRO-9-4-20-2.pdf

DWB co-organizer Nakia Wallace in chokehold during protest July 10, 2010 v. police execution of Hakim Littleton.

Plaintiff’s attorney Amanda Ghannam, speaking at a press conference Aug. 31, said the DPD, with the tacit consent of the City of Detroit under Mayor Mike Duggan, had continuously attacked peaceful protesters in downtown Detroit and throughout its neighborhoods without any provocation. She said the attacks began the first day of protests May 29 and continued through the night of Aug. 22.

In addition to Detroit Will Breathe, the lawsuit named individual plaintiffs: Tristan Taylor, Nakia Wallace, Jazten Bass, Lauren Rosen, Lauryn Brennan, Amy Nahabedian, Zachary Kolodziej, Lauren Branch, Lillian Ellis, Olivia Puente,  Iman Saleh, Margaret Henige, Caylee Arnold, And Alexander Anest.

It contains shocking photos and accounts of the attacks on individual plaintiffs, which it says resulted in severe injuries whose effects sometimes lasted for weeks. They included fractures and other effects from beatings (e.g. broken pelvis, broken ribs, collapsed lung, blackened eyes), severe injuries from rubber bullets, concussions resulting in nausea, difficulty sleeping, and confusion for days, and others.

See full lawsuit at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Detroit-WIll-Breathe-federal-lawsuit-2020-08-31-DWB-Complaint-compressed-1.pdf

Rubber bullet injury to woman protester’s chest.

Judge Michelson’s order lent strength to demands that Chief Craig resign, presented by  Detroit Will Breathe in coalition with 35 other civil rights groups at a press conference Sept. 3.

Speakers at the event condemned not only the  brutality against protesters, but the validity of Craig’s blanket claims justifying the killing of Hakim Littleton July 10, and three subsequent shootings of Detroiters, two of them fatal, by Detroit police during the two and one-half weeks after Littleton was executed.

“Right now in Detroit you cannot believe the kind of stress and the fear put on our communities by the Detroit Police Department,” Darryl Jordan, co-director of the East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC), said at the event Sept. 3.

“Just a little while ago, we had four people shot, three people dead, in two-and-a-half weeks. That’s not right. . .you know people who are suspect of crimes don’t supposed to get the death penalty in the streets. People who are out here just exercising their constitutional rights don’t supposed to get beat up, gassed and just pushed all around. We all need to rise up and do what we need to do.” Statement by coalition is at:


Craig later called protesters “outsiders, agitators, in some instances domestic terrorists,”  in a report published on WWJ Radio. (See above.)

In response to the groups’ demand, Craig said he was not “going anywhere.”  He told Detroit News reporter George Hunter that he questions whether Detroit Will Breathe intends to be peaceful, citing a video of an earlier march posted on their Facebook page.

Craig pointed out the following comments to Hunter, who quoted them.

“It’s a lot of m—–f—— who are ready for a fight, and if we don’t prepare for that fight before these cops continue to escalate, because they will, then somebody is going to die, and there’s going to be a war, and we won’t be prepared. We need to start planning to be less nice to the police. . . They need a deterrent.”

Enhancement of DPD video shows execution of Hakim Littleton with bullet #10 July 10, 2020.

In fact, comments by Jordan and the unidentified protester are likely reactions to an alarming explosion of police terror across the U.S., involving both local law enforcement agencies and federal agents operating in a dozen cities including Detroit, under U.S. President Donald Trump’s “Operation Legend.”

DPD Chief Craig has unequivocally endorsed the agents’ presence in Detroit, where OL representatives announced that they have so far racked up 44 arrests on various charges.

Detroit Gang Squad Police who executed Hakim Littleton July 10 were serving a federal warrant on another youth, Darnell Sylvester, when Littleton happened on the scene. Sylvester was later released on a $10,000 bond by a Federal judge in Detroit, with instructions to appear in the North Dakota District Court, where the warrant originated. To date, no further action has been posted on the federal court PACER website.


State Sen. Stephanie Chang, City Council members Raquel Castañeda-López and Mary Sheffield, U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib AP file photos

Just as DPD Chief Craig denounced the federal court restraining order issued by Judge Michelson (a woman), he and Board of Police Commissioners Chairman Willie Bell have also written off a letter they received Sept. 8 calling for an independent probe into the DPD’s violence against protesters, sent by higher government officials including U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Michigan State Rep. Stephanie Chang, along with Detroit City Council members Raquel Castañeda-López and Mary Sheffield.

BOPC Chair Willie Bell

Mayor  Duggan, Craig

“We are writing to request an immediate full, independent investigation of the Detroit Police Department’s use of excessive force against protestors, legal observers and journalists in recent months,” the women wrote.

“The right to demonstrate, without fear of violence, incarceration or intimidation from law enforcement, is at the core of our democracy. . .We urge an immediate independent investigation of any and all use of excessive physical force or intimidation against protestors, journalists, or legal observers at all Detroit Will Breathe protests and other related events.”



FILE – In this July 30, 2020, file photo, a demonstrator is pepper sprayed shortly before being arrested during a Black Lives Matter protest at the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse in Portland, Ore. The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020, challenging the legality of the actions taken by U.S. agents sent by President Donald Trump to subdue protests in Portland. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)


National Public Radio (NPR) published a review of federal charges against 74 protesters in Portland Oregon.

A bloodied demonstrator is arrested by federal police during a Black Lives Matter protest at the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse on Monday in Portland, Ore.
(Noah Berger / Associated Press)

They quoted Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf : “‘We’ve seen about 300 arrests across this country regarding civil unrest and protest, violent protesting, I’d say criminal protesting, criminal rioting. About 100 of those have been in Portland specifically, and I know the Department of Justice has charged about 74 or 75 individuals in Portland there with different federal crimes.'”

“But an NPR review of the federal cases brought in Portland shows that the majority of the charges are for what could be considered minor offenses.

“As of Aug. 28, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Oregon had charges outstanding against 74 people in connection with the Portland unrest,” NPR said. “. . .Of those cases charged, 11 are for citations and 42 are for misdemeanors, meaning that more than 70% of the total charged cases are not felonies.” See:  https://www.npr.org/2020/09/05/909245646/review-of-federal-charges-in-portland-unrest-show-most-are-misdemeanors

Michael Reinoehl at protest outside Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s residence. Credit The Oregonian

On Sept. 3, a “federal fugitive task force” killed Michael Reinoehl, a father of two children, in Lacey, Washington, in a hail of bullets for the shooting death of Aaron J.Danielson.

Danielson was one of a brigade of armed supporters of U.S. Pres. Donald Trump,  who clashed with Black Lives Matter protesters.

The task force has refused to identify the cops responsible for Reinoehl’s killing, saying they will do so after an investigation is complete. They have also refused to release bodycam videos.

Reinoehl never admitted to the action but said it was necessary self-defense, in a video posted on Vice News days before he was killed, which likely outed him to the authorities.

Reinoehl had worked security for the Portland Black Lives Matter protesters for months. The New York Times quoted a close friend, Randle McCorkle, who said, “Nightly, he would break up fights. He wanted change so badly.”

He added that he hoped his death would bring more BLM protesters out. “’I was going to say radicalize, but galvanize is a better word,” he said. “Honestly, I’m going to try to step into his shoes.’”


Vigil for Manuel Vega Sept. 5 after he was killed by Chicago police. Telemundo TV Chicago

On Sept. 1, Chicago police shot Manuel Vega, 20, in the back of the head, killing him, in the city’s Pilsen district. They claimed a group of men had just shot at them and they were returning fire, but Vega’s family and neighbors denied that Vega had shot at the police, holding a vigil and march afterwards.

See https://chicago.suntimes.com/news/2020/9/5/21424597/miguel-vega-erik-pilsen-police-shooting-19th-loomis-march

Different car featured as the suspects’ vehicle.

Craig claimed this white Kia’s occupants fired at police.

That killing recalls DPD Chief James Craig’s immediate reaction  to gunshots allegedly fired at Detroit police Aug. 27, outside a motel at Telegraph and McNichols.

He said three individuals in a white Kia carried out the shootings, then sped away and crashed. The Kia was not spotted until an hour afterwards. Two of the individuals were arrested and taken to the hospital. DPD and federal agents are still seeking the other unnamed individual, whose photo they posted. Meanwhile, news media posted another photo of a different vehicle that had crashed and was thought to be the one involved.

Nothing further has been released by DPD, just as no further information has been forthcoming on the police killings of Hakim Littleton and two other men in a three-week period in July, 2020.

Video below was published by Detroit Will Breathe on their Facebook page. ARE THESE DOMESTIC TERRORISTS AS CHIEF CRAIG CALLED THEM?

DETROIT WILL BREATHE https://www.facebook.com/detroitwillbreathe/

Also see: https://www.detroitnews.com/picture-gallery/news/local/detroit-city/2020/09/06/detroit-breathe-marks-100-days-protest-george-floyd-racial-injustice/5733303002/


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