Amid anti-law enforcement sentiment nationwide as activists seek criminal justice reform and repeated calls from local protesters to resign, Detroit police Chief James Craig vowed in a Fox News appearance Monday to stay on the job.
“I’ve taken a firm stand here in Detroit. I’ve been supported by Detroiters. But let me just say, Detroiters want them gone. And so I’m not leaving. They have to leave,” Craig said during an interview on “The Story with Martha MacCallum,” referring to groups denouncing police chiefs across the country.
“And I’ve said it publicly, both locally and nationally, and I’m going to hold my ground. Because our men and women who serve deserve much better than this.”
Craig’s interview came as his department grapples with a federal lawsuit the protest group Detroit Will Breathe recently filed alleging Detroit police used “unnecessary, unreasonable and excessive force” and violated members’ constitutional rights.
On Sept. 4, a federal judge granted a temporary restraining order that bars city officers from using several tactics and equipment on “peaceful protesters” for 14 days. City officials are seeking to change the temporary order.
Throughout ongoing demonstrations since the death of George Floyd in Minnesota on Memorial Day, activists have called for Craig’s resignation and criticized his department.
During the interview Monday night, MacCallum asked Craig about why he kept working in light of other police chiefs around the country leaving. She mentioned the Rochester, New York, top cop’s firing amid the continuing upheaval over the suffocation death of Daniel Prude.
“… It’s clear to me what’s really going on. It’s not about who the police chief is sitting in the seat, whether the police chief is black, whether he’s white, black, Asian, male, female. It’s deeper than that,” Craig told her. “If you talk against this group, you must go. That’s their attitude.”
Craig, who spent part of his career in Los Angeles, also called the recent ambush of two county sheriff’s deputies in the region “despicable.”
“I’m angry about it. A coward who’s part of this whole agenda. That’s what’s going on today,” he said. “We need to call it what it is.”
When MacCallum read Democratic U.S. Sen. Edward Markey’s tweet Monday proposing that police should be disarmed of “weapons of war” and calling for an nationwide ban on items such as tear gas and rubber bullets, Craig said the idea was “absolutely ridiculous.”
“When are we going to start talking about disarming criminals? I’ve been on the record, I support law-abiding citizens to be armed. But criminals?” he said. “And so it’s OK to attack police officers? And then everyone always says one thing: ‘These were peaceful protesters.’ So I guess when you’re throwing Molotov cocktails, railroad spikes, other projectiles, you’re using green lasers, I guess that constitutes being peaceful?”
Craig added that in Detroit, “We have never tried to stop folks from their right to free speech. We’ve been dealing with this for in excess of 100 days. Six instances where we’ve had to use force because they were either attacking us or they resisted a lawful arrest. Enough is enough.”
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