DETROIT (FOX 2) - Three officer-involved incidents out of Saturday's clash between police and Detroit Will Breathe protesters are being looked at by the professional standards section of the Detroit Police Department, Chief James Craig said.
The investigations involve the use of a baton, pepper spray and an unknown injury of a protester.
The tension and violence arose after three months of protests culminated in Detroit over the weekend. What had been mostly peaceful took a turn, with 44 protesters being arrested and three incidents involving officers now being investigated.
Prior to any violence or arrest, protests on Saturday started peacefully after demonstrators listened to several speakers. From there, a march through downtown began. Shortly after, police in riot gear moved in.
Chief Craig said Monday that the decision to start making arrests was made because a group of about 150 people, led by the grassroots group Detroit Will Breathe, would not move and began putting up barricades in the area of John R and Woodward and were not complying with police demands to relocate.
Craig said many protesters began to leave Saturday when they realized what the group's intent was. The group made their intentions known with a social media post earlier that day, saying they going to occupy the intersection to demand the immediate end of Operation Legend in Detroit and that they weren't leaving until the additional federal agents that recently came here withdrew.
"I am not going to let any group set up a Seattle zone of lawlessness here in the city of Detroit. That's non-negotiable," Chief Craig said. "We have never deployed or asked for federal help in managing protesters. Over the weeks it's been the Detroit Police Department."
Craig said he was told at least eight orders were given for the group to relocate over the time span of about an hour before police started making arrests.
Craig says many detained resisted arrest, some used an unknown gas on officers and one protester was deploying a laser on the police helicopter and at officers. He said investigators are working to identify that person.
"If you come to our city and you are going to be disruptive, you will be arrested. We're talking about any effort to destroy property, injure officers or citizens. We will not tolerate it," Craig said.
Three officer-involved incidents out of the clash being looking at by the professional standards section of DPD involve the use of a baton, pepper spray and an unknown injury of a protester.
"What you have to understand is something called excessive force, which is illegal. Force in and of itself doesn't mean brutality," he said.
Craig's top brass also some strong words Monday for protesters, which DPD continues to say are not supported by the majority of Detroiters and other well-known Detroit activists.
"To Detroit will breathe, you're not welcome. Go. It's just not working," said Dep. Chief Todd Bettison.
You can watch the full news conference with Chief Craig in the video player below.