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Protest group Detroit Will Breathe and DPD spar over police accountability

Group vows to hold more protests
Posted at 3:20 PM, Aug 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-25 15:20:20-04
(WXYZ) —

Tensions continue Tuesday morning between the protest group “Detroit Will Breathe” and the Detroit Police Department.

This comes after a demonstration Saturday that ended with police using tear gas and dozens of arrests.

And Chief James Craig saying Monday he will “not let any group set up a Seattle zone of lawlessness here in the city of Detroit.”

These protests began three months ago following the death of George Floyd. Over these three months, we’ve seen some acts of solidarity, even Chief Craig taking a knee alongside a group of protesters at one point. But following this weekend’s protest on Woodward Avenue, hosted by “Detroit Will Breathe,” a clear message from DPD's top brass.

“To Detroit Will Breathe, you’re not welcome. Go, it’s just not working," said DPD Deputy Chief Todd Bettison.

Police deployed tear gas, and 44 people were arrested Saturday after police say the group Detroit Will Breathe continued to block traffic on Woodward Avenue.

The demonstration providing a clear message against more federal agents in Detroit.

“We made a decision to take a bold move and occupy space," said Tristan Taylor, an organizer and protester.

Chief Craig is sending a message of his own.

“I’m not going to let any group setup a Seattle zone of lawlessness in Detroit," said Chief Craig.

Detroit Will Breathe met Monday night at Clark Park to say they’re not going anywhere.

“I’m practicing my first amendment right, and if I can give my life for this country, I can protest this country," said Darnell Grant, a protester.

And newly shared video of Saturday’s protests, showing an officer tackling a protester is sparking new calls for police accountability.

DPD says no feds were on the street Saturday. One protester, who police say was wearing body armor and carrying a baton, could be charged with a felony.

“We just want the truth heard, and we’re not out here to destroy Detroit," said Kenya Fentress, another protester.

Detroit Will Breathe is adamant that until policies change, they will make their voices heard.

DPD says it’s investigating an officer’s use of a night stick, another officer’s use of pepper spray, and a protester who was hurt on Saturday.