Detroit Chief of Police James Craig blamed lawmakers for caving to “protest pressure” and calling for an investigation into his police force’s tactics for handling protests and riots in the city.
Craig appeared on Fox News on Wednesday and slammed Michigan lawmakers, as well as elected mayors in major U.S. cities where rioters have smashed, looted, and burned while police have taken heat for alleged misconduct. Elected officials such as Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) have pushed for an investigation of Craig’s handling of recent protests.
“This is nothing more than protest pressure,” Craig said on Wednesday. “Some who are in political leadership are folding to the pressure by the protesters, so it’s not by accident that you see the number of chiefs across the country who are leaving in large numbers. They don’t feel supported. The men and women who are on the ground doing this work don’t feel supported. And so it’s really about this pressure. That’s the bottom line.”
In recent weeks, at least half a dozen police chiefs in major American cities have announced their resignations as riots have raged and police undergo intense scrutiny for their tactics. Many of the police chiefs who have resigned are black, such as Seattle’s Carmen Best and La’Ron Singletary of Rochester, New York.
Late last week, a Detroit judge barred Craig’s police force from using non-lethal tools such as tear gas and batons on protesters in response to a lawsuit from the activist group Detroit Will Breathe. Craig said the order was meaningless because his officers only used those tools in response to violent protesters, not against “peaceful protesters,” as stated in the order.
Craig slammed mayors for failing to back their police departments, and in some cases heavily criticizing them, to placate Black Lives Matter protesters. Craig said that he and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan are in “lockstep” together with how to deal with protests, and credited that relationship with keeping Detroit from suffering a fate similar to Minneapolis and Kenosha, Wisc.
The police chief asserted that many of the protests are not actually about racial equality like they claim, but about changing the social and economic systems of the United States.
“It has nothing to do with the ethnicity or gender of a police chief. These folks are calling for mayors to resign as well. It doesn’t matter if you’re Left or Right. It has to do [with] what their agenda is, and it’s not supporting anybody who sits in office, anybody who was appointed as a police chief,” Craig said.
“Let’s face it, we saw what happened in Portland. You know, there was this big hue and cry over federal officers on the ground to protect their facility. But then when they retreated—the federal officers—[activists] continued to riot, they continued to attack local police. So it’s never about what it appears. They hide behind these issues, whether it’s the unfortunate death of Mr. Floyd, but it is not about that,” Craig continued.
“This is total anarchy, and what’s obvious is there’s political leadership, I’ve said it before, who, not in all cities [but in] some cities, who are standing by and saying nothing in fear that they may then be attacked,” Craig concluded. “But the problem is they’re being attacked anyway, so you gotta understand what the true agenda is. It’s certainly not about race. It’s something much deeper than that, and we just need to start talking about it, and we need to stand up and call it what it is: total anarchy.”