Detroit Police Chief: ‘The Last Thing we Need in Our City is Voter Intimidation’

It doesn’t matter where you stand on the aisle.

Voting is a human right, and doing so safely tomorrow on Election Day is what Detroit Police Chief James Craig, and other local officials, have in mind for Detroiters headed to the polls.

“[It] doesn’t matter who it is, this is not a left or right issue—this is an issue of making sure those who want to vote can feel free to do so without being intimidated,” Craig said.

With voter threats and violent election-related acts seemingly on the rise, Craig discussed in an Oct. 23 Detroit Police Department Facebook video post what safety measures voters could expect. Craig said that the Police Department will monitor activity and if they hear anything “out of the norm” then they will be ready.

“Yes, the department will be out in mass; we won’t be at polling locations in a heightened way but we will be in the area if there should be a problem,” Craig assured in the video, adding that the Police Department will respond quickly, though they are not anticipating any trouble.

“We’ve been through a number of elections in the city of Detroit…if we need to take any kind of action we will do so appropriately and professionally,” Craig said.

From two right-wing men, Jack Burkman, 54, and Jacob Wohl, 22, accused of making voter intimidation calls to nearly 12,000 Detroit residents to Trump supporters blocking Biden’s bus during a recent campaign on the freeway in the New Jersey area—potential violence at the polls is nothing new, sadly to Black Americans. The passing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was even created to federally ban intimidation at the polls. Attorney General Dana Nessel, and others, attempted to ban open carry at polling locations [to further reduce intimidation] without success and clerks statewide are making it clear that voter intimidation will not be tolerated.

In a Detroit Free Press article Delta Township Clerk Mary Clark said that voting in person is safe.

“If you’re 18 years of age, you’re an adult and my expectation is that you’re going to act like an adult,” Clark said. “We obviously will not tolerate voter intimidation.”

Craig echoed similar thoughts and said while he supports the Second Amendment, he also won’t allow voter intimidation.

“I support open carry; we’re not going to allow that to impact Detroiters,” Craig said. “This is a place where we believe it should not happen—not there. We want to make sure everybody feels comfortable when voting.”

Detroit resident Juanita Patterson said that some of the election intimidation tactics are “terrible” and she is still deciding on if she plans to go to the polls tomorrow.

“It sounds bad but I am on the verge of not voting period; that’s where I am,” Patterson said. “We do know that Trump did a lot of bad things and I was for Trump in the beginning but he lost me.”

According to the Associated Press, the Detroit NAACP will monitor voting sites for intimidation.

The Detroit NAACP branch announced on Oct. 27 that its members and area attorneys will monitor polls across the city and state on Election Day for instances of voter intimidation or voter suppression.

The group said, according to the article, that if any such efforts are seen, or if any voters feel threatened by gun-carrying individuals “watching” the polls, police and prosecutors will be contacted.

“We’re not police officers, but we have eyes and we have ears,” Chui Karega, a lawyer and general counsel for the Detroit branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said in the article. “We will stand tall and we will be present to assist in the enforcing of the law.”


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