Mayor Mike Duggan started the press conference off on Thursday by offering his thoughts and condolences to the Family of George Floyd, whose family participated in a private memorial ceremony Thursday afternoon. “We’ve taken one step—we have a long way to go in what we have to do with racism and criminal justice in America, but we took one step. And I’m hoping we took a significant step in this community…” he responded after commending the Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison on his decision to charge all 4 officers with 2nd Degree murder. “I feel very strongly that we have done the right thing”.
In what has been an emotional week of civil unrest in Detroit, Mayor Duggan and Police Chief James Craig held a press conference to explain why they decided to implement a curfew in the city of Detroit following the protests that have taken place in Detroit over the last 6 days. “Friday, when the big protest was staged here, we didn’t do a curfew, we didn’t call for the National Guard, but Friday evening we saw something we didn’t quite understand.” Mayor Duggan recalled that Friday evening the initial organizers of the earlier peaceful protests were nowhere to be found and instead police officers were met with agitators carrying bullhorns, directing traffic, and “stirring up trouble” with police. “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.” After the climax of the protests on Saturday night, where there were accounts of railroad spikes and other projectiles being used as weapons and being thrown at police officers, Mayor Duggan and Chief Craig also learned that 28 cities across the US had already called in the National Guard for assistance.
“If we don’t change what we’re doing, we’re going to lose the city Sunday night.” Detroit Mayor Duggan expressed this was the exact thought he shared with Chief Craig that lead to the implementation of the curfew. Mayor Duggan further explained that they did not want to call in the National Guard because they opted to lean on the trust established between the residents of Detroit and the Detroit Police Department. “We agree with the protesters… we want Detroit’s voice to resonate across the country, but we couldn’t put our officers and we couldn’t put the city at risk.” said Duggan “I happen to think we have maybe the best Police Chief in America” he spoke candidly about the respected Detroit Police Chief.
“As the Mayor indicated, the curfew was imposed for one reason, and one reason only to mitigate and eliminate any and all threats, that’s the focus” announced Chief Craig. As he recounted observing the protesters and the march, he expressed that he felt very strongly they were peaceful and on point, with the exception of using the derogatory term “12” in reference to police. As he went on to share his thought that what happened to George Floyd “should have never happened” he advised that he is encouraged and that the police are here to protect the protesters. “When you talk about the small few that want to be disruptive and engage in criminality, not only has this placed our officers at risk, but it placed the protesters and onlookers at risk as well, so we’re thinking about their safety.” He concluded that he and Mayor Duggan will continue to evaluate next steps in the coming days. There was no official statement as to how long the curfew will continue.