Chief: Most arrested at Detroit protest are not from city

Nearly two-thirds of the 60 people arrested Friday night during protests in downtown Detroit over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis were from the city’s predominantly white suburbs.

Thirty-seven of those taken into custody were from places like Warren, Farmington Hills, West Bloomfield and even Grand Blanc, which is about 60 miles (96 kilometers) northwest of Detroit, Detroit Police Chief James Craig said Saturday.

Detroit was one of a number of U.S. cities where protests were staged, but didn’t see the levels of violence, damage or altercations with law enforcement that occurred elsewhere.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz blamed destruction Friday night in Minneapolis — including setting a police station on fire — on out-of-state instigators.

In Detroit, the message given Saturday by Craig, Mayor Mike Duggan and local activists to outsiders was clear: Stay home.

“To those who threaten the safety of our community, our police officers, who damage property, we will not tolerate your criminal actions,” Craig told reporters. “Our response will be both measured and effective.”

Although Detroit is about 80% black, many of those arrested were white.

“We support the right to free speech. We support peaceful protests,” Craig added. “If you want to disrupt, stay home and disrupt in your own community.”

One person died in downtown Detroit after someone fired shots into a vehicle during a protest over Monday’s death of Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes.

The shooting occurred about 11:30 p.m. Friday near Detroit’s Greektown entertainment district as officers were confronted with dozens of protesters. A police report released Saturday said the shooting victim, a 21-year-old Eastpointe man, was sitting in the driver’s seat of a silver Dodge Caliber in a parking lot with two other male occupants when an unknown person fired shots into the vehicle and fled on foot.

About an hour after the shooting, police initially said the shooting suspect had pulled up in a Dodge Durango and fired shots into a crowd. That information was corrected following further investigation Saturday morning by officers.

Authorities were still investigating the circumstances surrounding the shooting.

Levels of violence also were high in other cities.

Protesters in Washington threw pieces of bricks, bottles and other objects at Secret Service and U.S. Park Police officers behind barricades around the White House. Some officers were kicked and punched.

Protesters in Richmond, Virginia, smashed windows Friday at police headquarters. Police in Houston said about 200 people were arrested and four officers were injured.

As protesters blocked traffic in Chicago, some threw bottles and other objects at police vehicles and shattered the windows of downtown businesses.

In Detroit, the demonstration began earlier in the day Friday and was peaceful as protesters marched by police headquarters. As evening wore on, some in the crowd became belligerent.

Objects were thrown at police. A police captain was hospitalized after being struck in the head with a rock. Another officer injured a shoulder during a fall. Seven police vehicles were damaged.

Officers, many in riot gear, confronted the demonstrators and formed lines across streets during the demonstration. But by midnight, the crowd had thinned considerably as police shot canisters of gas toward the protesters.

If people from outside Detroit want to protest, they should do it in their own communities, said Ray Winans, one of several activists who participated in Saturday’s news conference.

“If black lives matter, advocate with those officers in your community and those suburbs and let them know (that) sometimes you don’t have to pull over black folks just because they’re driving through (your) communities,” Winans said.

But, if African Americans behaved the same way in some suburban cities, the result could be far different, he added.

“If any of our black and brown boys from Detroit would have went to any of those suburbs and threw bricks and rocks ... they probably would have got murdered,” Winans said.