Detroit mayor expands on thought process behind 8 p.m. citywide curfew

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan expanded Thursday on what led to the city imposing an 8 p.m. curfew as it continues Thursday night.

Duggan said when protests arose nationally last Wednesday and Thursday, officials had not imposed a curfew in Detroit. But on Friday, when the protests began in Michigan, they had concerns.

“In the evening, the leaders of the protest, the march, were gone, and people we had not seen before were stirring up trouble and conflicts with police officers -- really provoking them,” he said.

He said he spoke with Detroit Police Chief James Craig on Saturday morning, wondering if the “trouble” was a fluke.

RELATED: Chief Craig: Detroit curfew remains in effect Thursday, but will make "assessments" on protests

“We decided that we did not want to have a curfew, that we did not want to restrict the people of the city from being able to express themselves. That almost turned out to be a very serious mistake because Saturday night, we learned this was no fluke. After an absolutely peaceful protest all through the city, when things turned dark, the organizers of the protest -- the one who started them off -- we couldn’t find anywhere,” he said.

Duggan said there were people with blow horns directing protesters with walkie-talkies that they had not seen before. So they picked up the walkie talkie traffic, he said, and they were directing people to meet at the police headquarters where officers were waiting.

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“The police officers weren’t going after them, they sent the crowd there,” he said. “We saw resupply trucks that were passing out rocks and fireworks and spikes and railroad ties, and there were throwing them at the officers.”

Detroit officials spoke Sunday morning. Duggan said he was getting pressure to call in the national guard - 28 other states had.

“If we dont change what we’re doing, we’re going to lose the city Sunday night. We really believe that” he said.

But they determined that most of the issues came at night and instigated an 8 p.m. curfew.

“I didn't want to stop anybody protesting. I really thought that being able to protest 8 in the morning to 8 at night that the public would understand,” Duggan said.

Monday protests ended peacefully. Duggan said he told Craig that the 8 p.m. curfew was a guide to keep officers safe, but if Craig believes people are safer if they end protests at a later point, to use his judgement. He said this happened Monday when a group came back late and the police held off until closer to 9 p.m.

Duggan said protesters shift from day to day and they can’t tell whether they were planning to come in after dark and cause destruction or whether it was a group that just chose a protest route that took too long to complete. It turns out Monday they had taken a route that took too long and it ended peacefully.

On Wednesday, Duggan said the chief called him at 8:30 p.m. and said the protesters were not posing a risk, and he decided to just let it go.

“I will be very happy when I get to a day when there’s no curfew at all,” the mayor said, adding he doesn’t think it’s far off.

Duggan also said people were protesting his own house, voicing their opinion about him. He commended them, saying those protesters were respectful to his neighborhood -- the last few people even cleaned up trash caused by the protest.

Craig told FOX 2 on Thursday morning that the city's 8 p.m. curfew will remain in effect tonight for anyone planning to protest, but he will make decisions based on how to proceed if planned protests extend beyond the rule. 

Craig and Duggan have put on a balancing act of sorts over the last five days. Both say they support the cause of the protests but have condemned the destruction and disruption that has followed later into the evening.

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Craig said police cars have been damaged and officers have been attacked during previous protests, which provoked a response of mass arrests. On Tuesday, more than 120 people were put in handcuffs after clashing with police on Gratiot Avenue. Many demonstrators have argued police tactics have been too harsh while several journalists have been caught in the fray. On Tuesday, a Detroit Free Press reporter was detained and Motor City Muckraker Steve Neavling said an officer broke his glasses after being punched and attacked by police.

Craig said they are investigating several incidents of police misconduct, but pushed back on the narrative his officers had overreacted.