Detroit Chief Craig "very encouraged" by department's response to weekend protests

Detroit Police Chief James Craig said he was "very encouraged" by the department's response to weekend protests that unfurled following an explosion in racially-charged demonstrations across the country.

He also praised the efforts by those who did demonstrate peacefully over the weekend, signaling his department's full support behind the activists and the message they're pushing.

"You see in some of the news conferences with the mayor and I, that they support this city," Craig told FOX 2 Monday morning. "What we're finding here, though that the protesters who are here with a message who we support, I've said it time and time again, we think about the death of Mr. Floyd, we're angry. Many of our police officers are angry about it, so we support the peaceful protesters with their message."

Craig then added "It's the outside individuals that are coming to Detroit and decided to make this something different."

Craig cited a growing trend being reported in other cities where mass protests have turned to destructive riots. While peaceful demonstrations take place during the day when dusk sets in is when a more combustible form of protest takes over. 

It's during the later hours when officers have made the majority of their arrests. Hundreds of people were placed in handcuffs from Friday through Sunday, of which the "70% or more" of individuals were not from the city, and several traveled from outside the state.

"It begs the question 'why are you here? Why? And so, I'm very encouraged about the work of our community and certainly the professionalism," he said.

The reason for much of news over the weekend stems back a week ago when George Floyd, a black man, died shortly after a white police officer placed his knee on the back of Floyd's neck where he kept it there for nine minutes. As the police officer laid on Floyd, who was handcuffed at the time, he could be heard saying "I can't breathe" and asking for his mom. 

Since then, protests from across the country have bubbled over into riots.  

Comparative to the property destruction to vehicles and storefronts reported in cities like Los Angeles and Minneapolis, damage to Detroit appeared minimal. There was some destruction to a Detroit Police squad vehicle early on during a protest on Friday and several officers were injured amid the unrest. 

RELATED: Residents from outside of Detroit made up majority of weekend arrests during protests

In Grand Rapids, peaceful protests Saturday turned destructive as police cars were set on fire and downtown businesses were looted. In Lansing, the Romney building where the governor works out of sustained damage its first-floor windows. Another car was seen on fire near Washington Avenue and Michigan Avenue.

With little evidence that more damage wouldn't stop, Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Lansing all implemented citywide curfews Sunday night. 

Craig, in addition to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, attributed the peaceful demonstrations from activists to the relationship between community leaders and the police department.

"You want what we got," said Pastor Mo, who sat at a table with Duggan and Craig and talked about their relationship with the city. "We already got that, so there's no need to burn here. There's no need to tear up and loot here. There's no need to taunt the police and come out start unnecessary protests here."

"Our people, our mayor, our chief got it right," he continued. "So what our role should be is to be a model and an example. Let's lead the way."