Thursday News Hit: Wednesday protest ends with victory lap, how to curb police brutality, Detroit Zoo reopens

Detroit's sixth night of protests led to a second night of peaceful demonstrations since mass gatherings of people started in the city last Friday. Whereas on Monday when peaceful protests splintered off on the guidance of a 16-year-old activist, the arbiter of Wednesday night's non-violent confrontation with police was their chief who rode alongside the protesters.

"Not too long ago, officers were attacked, cars were destroyed and so I support the voice, I support peaceful protesting and this is what I'm seeing right now. I support, I embrace it," said Police Chief James Craig, "but we just can't have provocateurs or criminal activity. I will not tolerate it."

Calling it 'a day of celebration' Craig offered an olive branch to the protesters around 8:30 p.m. telling them as long as protests remained peaceful, officers would not make arrests or enforce the curfew. A cry of celebration ran through the crowd, which estimates place the size of the protest around 1,000 individuals strong, one of the largest yet. They then took a "Victory Lap" back to the police headquarters before dispersing.

One of the places where the protesters demonstrated Wednesday night was at the Manoogian Mansion, the Detroit Mayor's official residence. There they called for an end to the citywide curfew, which served as grounds for many of the 127 arrests that were made Tuesday night after tensions boiled over into a free-for-all between officers and protesters on Gratiot Avenue.

While Mike Duggan sympathized with the request for an end to the curfew, he also doubled-down after referencing the weekend's demonstrations - which saw a lot more combustion between protesters and police officers.

"I completely agree with the basis for their protest, the difference is, I am the mayor of the city and I am responsible for the protecting of the city," Duggan said. "I am not going to let these huge crowds operate under the cover of darkness after what I saw Friday and Saturday night. What I saw in Cleveland and what I saw in Chicago. I am not going to let it happen."

Duggan enacted the curfew as a defense against "outside agitators," many of who made up the bulk of the arrests made over the weekend. Detroit community leaders, like Rev. Wendell Anthony of the NAACP, chastized individuals coming from outside the city and stirring up problems. 

While the shows of activism have taken up much of the oxygen of the news cycle, some consultants are also pivoting toward solutions that fall in line behind the message of Detroit's mass demonstrations. 

Dennis Black, a political consultant and former National Lawyer Guild board member offered some ideas to stem excessive force in policing, including regulating fine limits and de-militarizing the police force. 

"One, there should probably be a cap on traffic fines, a state regulation that says no city should have more than 5 percent of its police budget or 'X' percent of its police budget be based on traffic fines," he said

Ideas include: 

  • A permanent ban on police and sheriff departments receiving military equipment from the federal government
  • That lawsuit settlements from police misconduct be paid from their pension funds
  • Making sure officers convicted of excessive force or domestic violence cannot put on a badge again

"There are officers that hop from department to department, costing respective cities millions of dollars in lawsuits while they're continuing their job in law enforcement," Black said, referencing his third point. 

Finding an ally in Republican State Sen. Pete Lucido, who argued that there should be "zero tolerance" when police brutality happens and shouldn't continue in other police forces.

"The duty of a police officer is to do good by the people, to let the people know that they're there for their benefit and not detriment and that's what I've seen with people of color," said Lucido, who chairs the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee. "I've seen this over and over, there's a detriment that's involved."

While the ideas offered by Black may not be explicitly written into legislation, Detroit State Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo offered optimism that bills involving policing may go further than they have before, which isn't very far.

"I've long said that having Detroit teachers, police officers and firefighters to serve in the communities of which they're from, have added value," she said.

Detroit Zoo reopening

The Detroit Zoo is set for a soft opening Monday, June 8 as it reopens its doors for the first time in months. Offered only to members for the first four days, the park will be limited to a thousand-visitor capacity, and only allowing 500 people in the park at any one time. 

After the first phase of reopening is complete, non-members will be allowed to visit the zoo on June 12, with capacity raised closer to 2,000. 

Visitors will need to purchase their tickets online, which will require scheduling a time to attend the park. Once purchased, attendees will receive an email with their ticket, a map, and safety guidelines.

Like most places reopening, those safety guidelines will include wearing a mask, using social distancing, and hand sanitizing frequently.

Daily Forecast

A warmer end of the week will lead to a cooler weekend. Expect possible showers on Friday.

Ex-UAW president Gary Jones pleads guilty to charges in federal corruption probe

The former president of the United Auto Workers Union pleaded guilty Wednesday to multiple charges stemming from a federal corruption probe. 

Gary Jones pleaded guilty embezzlement, racketeering and tax evasion. The 63-year-old resigned from the union last fall amid the corruption scandal.