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Detroit’s police chief called out U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib for her “totally inaccurate” claims about officers who confronted so-called peaceful protesters.
Detroit Police Chief James Craig told “Fox News @ Night” host Shannon Bream that “something very different” was going on Sunday than in other protests that the city has been seeing over the last few weeks, as he weighed in on criticism from the Democratic congresswoman who slammed police for driving through a group of demonstrators.
(Source: Fox News)
“To suggest that this protest was peaceful all night certainly is totally inaccurate,” Craig said, noting that there were “agitators” in the crowd.
Tlaib had retweeted a now-viral video which showed a Detroit Police vehicle surging through protesters who had initially surrounded it. During a press conference on Monday, Craig said the officer believed he was being fired upon as the angry mob swarmed the SUV.
“This is outrageous. Our city fought hard to have an elected commission to oversee abuse and misconduct by police,” Tlaib tweeted on Monday, railing against what many were calling an example of police brutality.
“Detroit Board of Police Commissioners: I hope you understand the gravity of this, especially if not fully investigated, documented and addressed,” the Michigan lawmaker added.
This is outrageous. Our city fought hard to have an elected commission to oversee abuse and misconduct by police.
Detroit Board of Police Commissioners: I hope you understand the gravity of this, especially if not fully investigated, documented and addressed. https://t.co/wAgXXuID9c
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) June 29, 2020
But Craig rejected the argument that police were overreacting.
“The vast majority, 300 or so protesters, most of them were peaceful but there were a few agitators embedded. That’s when things went bad,” he told Bream.
“I know that the congresswoman is making claims that they were peacefully marching when we intercepted and intentionally hit peaceful protesters, the chief added. “Not the case.”
“They surrounded the vehicle, they began to pelt the vehicle – not just one of our police cruisers but two of them – and in one instance, the rear window of one of our SUVs was broken out. And, the information I got from the officer in that vehicle was that he thought he was being shot at,” Craig explained.
He added that the “vast majority” of the community supports the department after seeing the video and photos that were released.
“These were not peaceful protesters, not this group. Twenty to 30 were very agitated, escalated to anger, and then violence. They jumped on the hood. They began to pelt the car. The officers feared for their safety. And they had to do only one thing: they needed to get out of harm’s way and they did that,” Craig said, adding that it is “unacceptable” to suggest that the police officers were violent.
“I would have preferred that the congresswoman at least took a moment to find out what was going on,” the police chief said of Tlaib.
“We recognize the investigation — we’re very early in the investigation, but we’re talking about violent protesters,” he said, adding that “early on during the protest, we were met with violence.”
“For her and a few others, a minority to suggest that the police performed in an outrageous manner, clearly these officers felt they were in danger,” Craig told Bream. “I talked to a number of police officers, I talked to the union, I talked to community members over the last 24 hours and they support the officers. They can clearly see that they were dealing with a group of violent criminals, not protesters.