Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan praised protesters and the city’s police force for keeping the city relatively calm Monday night.
But Duggan cautioned on Tuesday that the city must remain on high alert—and will keep an 8 p.m. curfew throughout the week.
Duggan said elements within the crowds protesting the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd are “intentionally sowing division and destruction.” But he said they didn’t succeed Monday night, because protest leaders and other “strong Detroiters” wouldn’t let it happen.
“Nobody threw a stone. Nobody attacked anybody else. Nobody shot any tear gas canisters,” Duggan said.
Duggan and Police Chief James Craig have said a small group of outside agitators has been behind most clashes with Detroit Police. They provided little evidence for that narrative, other than that the large majority of people arrested aren’t from Detroit.
“We don’t know who they are,” Duggan said. But, “We have to not be under any illusions. You just look at what’s happening around this country…there are people intentionally sowing division and destruction. There is no question about it.”
Detroit has so far been spared the violence and destruction seen in many other cities. But over the weekend, Detroit Police used tear gas, rubber bullets, and other aggressive tactics on protesters, some of whom clashed with police.
Deputy Detroit Police Chief Todd Bettison said police have struggled to maintain a balance between supporting the right to protest, and keeping things under control.
Bettison grew emotional on Tuesday as he described heavily-armed officers standing off against protesters in front of police headquarters Sunday night.
Some in the crowd shouted for officers to kneel. Bettison said most officers in tactical gear couldn’t do that.
“I said but as the highest-ranking person here, I will kneel on behalf of the department, the city of Detroit, and all of our citizens,” Bettison said. “Everybody, I will kneel. And I did.”
“It was emotional. We don’t want to be in this place, this space, but I understand the anger for what happened to George Floyd.”
But after that, Bettison said someone in the crowd threw an object at police officers, and they deployed tear gas.
“My heart was heavy” about that turn of events, Bettison said. “Because I didn’t accomplish what I wanted to.”
Craig said 40 people were ticketed for curfew violations on Monday night. But he said some of those tickets were later rescinded after people said they were trying to make their way back to their cars to go home.