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Detroit City Council authorizes city to settle lawsuit with Detroit Will Breathe

police in downtown detroit on May 31, 2020
Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
Police in downtown Detroit on May 31, 2020.

The Detroit City Council has approved an offer to settle a federal lawsuit with protesters who sued the city and its police department over alleged abuse.

Detroit Will Breathe led regular protests against police brutality after George Floyd’s police murder in Minneapolis in 2020.

Protesters and Detroit Police clashed on multiple occasions. Detroit Will Breathe’s lawsuit accused officers of using violent and abusive tactics on protesters, such as teargas and chokeholds, and violating their constitutional rights with mass arrests without probable cause. A city counter-suit that claimed the protesters were part of a “criminal conspiracy” was dismissed.

On Tuesday, the City Council has approved an offer of judgment that could settle the lawsuit for just over $1 million.

The case is not settled yet. A lawyer for Detroit Will Breathe says the plaintiffs have not yet seen the city’s offer.

Former Detroit Police Chief and GOP write-in candidate for governor, James Craig, said he was “troubled” by the proposed settlement, calling it “shameful.”

In a statement, Craig said that “Detroit was the only major city in the country that did not burn” during 2020 anti-police brutality protests. He claimed that “On the occasions when our officers were attacked or violation of law was committed, we used only the force necessary to overcome violence perpetrated against officers. Our commitment throughout the 100 plus days of protests was to maintain order and safety in our city.”

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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