Chief Craig says election protesters weren't treated like BLM protesters 'because they were peaceful'

The grassroots group Detroit Will Breathe is suing the Detroit Police Department over its handling of this summer’s protests against police. The city is countersuing for conspiracy.

Now, the group is asking why a group of prospective election challengers that took to the streets last week after the election wasn't treated like Detroit Will Breathe protesters.

"What they conveniently left out, they were peaceful. They were chanting and we gave them - just like we gave Detroit Will Breathe - an opportunity to exercise their right to free speech. But not one time did they attack this police department and the one instance when we made an arrest, it was made without incident and it had nothing to do with the protest. And so, factually wrong once again," Chief James Craig said. 

Detroit Will Breathe spokesman Tristan Taylor told FOX 2's Roop Raj that the issue they had with the DPD stems from August 22 when he says protesters were unfairly attacked by Detroit police at a time when they were unprovoked. Taylor would like the DPD to address that.

Meantime, in Minneapolis, the epicenter of the defund the police movement, the city council calling to dismantle the police department in light of George Floyd’s death at the knee of a Minneapolis officer. So many officers have resigned; it's bare-bones staffing.

Now the department is looking to hire outside security from the nearby sheriffs department and transit police to fill in the gap.

"You’ve lost confidence in your police department, morale is at the very bottom and police officers are saying we don’t want to work here. And it’s not just happening in Minneapolis. There’s no surprise that in New York police officers are leaving at alarming rates. Even in my old city of LA, I hear from so many Los Angeles police officers that are sick and tired of the politics and the fact that they are not being treated fairly," Craig said. 

Craig says he believes in police reform.

He says when he got to Detroit just shy of eight years ago, there was a problem. The community was disconnected from the police.

He says his community policing efforts have worked and so he asks this of Minneapolis city officials:

"Who are these elected leaders in these cities listening to? Because what I know having now worked in several cities, especially in those cities where neighborhoods have high crime, you know what I have always heard? We want our police officers. We want effective policing. If anything, we want to fund the police, not defund."

The chief says he’s all for working with detractors and those who just don’t see eye-to-eye. He meets with them regularly.

"And they have said, they are tired of this Detroit Will Breathe and they need to go home. And even when they call now for the second or third time for my resignation, I’ve said it and I will say it again: no, no. I’m not leaving, you leave."

Chief Craig says a large number of protesters aren't even from the city of Detroit. He says it's roughly a 70-30 split. 

Taylor says Detroit Will Breathe isn't a membership group and that they don't even have stats on who is from the city and who isn't.