Detroit lieutenant suspended after telling protester to 'go back to Mexico'

A Detroit police lieutenant was suspended after telling a pro-Palestine protester "why don’t you just go back to Mexico?"

The encounter between Lt. Brandon Cole and Palestinian protester and organizer Lexis Zeidan took place during a rally on Sunday, May 19, outside the NAACP Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner at Huntington Place in Detroit – that President Joe Biden attended.

During a news conference on Monday, DPD claimed the lieutenant was commenting on Zeidan's recent trip to Mexico, which Cole saw on Instagram. The incident was captured on video, sparking outrage.

In the footage, a protester asked Cole "are you still gonna get a divorce?"

However, Detroit Police Chief James White said in a statement on Wednesday that he was "briefed on additional facts that have surfaced."

The new evidence suggests that Zeidan did not make personal statements towards Cole, White said. Instead, they were made by another unidentified person who was nearby.

"Having considered this new information, my concerns over the events of May 19 have worsened," according to White's statement. In addition to Cole's suspension, a referral is being submitted to the Board of Police Commissioners to have his pay withheld. 

Demonstrators were protesting Biden's appearance at the dinner while calling for a ceasefire in the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

"The recent protest was one of the larger ones we have had to deal with over the past couple of years, which has revealed deficiencies in the operations of the units," White said. "For this reason, (DPD) will be examining the unit's leadership practices, ensuring that officers continue to adhere to… policies and training. 

"If warranted, appropriate changes will be made."

White did not elaborate on other new information that has surfaced relating to this incident. 


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