Detroit organizations file memorandum with Justice Department on police misconduct
More than 20 groups have signed a call for action by the Federal Department of Justice to address law enforcement brutality and impunity
A news conference held by numerous community organizations in Detroit on May 19 demanded that President Joe Biden’s Justice Department administration conduct an investigation into allegations of brutality and institutional racism by police in the city of Detroit.
This media event took place on the steps of the First Unitarian Universalist Church located in the Midtown neighborhood.
Leading activists and civil rights lawyers were there to explain the legal and political reasoning behind the memorandum. Since 2020, millions of people have demonstrated across the United States and around the world in response to the police execution of George Floyd in Minneapolis as well as others killed by police. Attis. Nancy A. Parker, Jeff Edison and Mark Fancher served as spokespersons to members of the press.
The current administration of President Biden has pledged to increase police funding while proving unable to pass laws such as the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act that would have placed federal guidelines to govern conduct and accountability law enforcement in the United States. administration inaction related to police brutality contributed to the alienation of many African Americans from the president.
Detroit has a long and troubled history of police misconduct. The July 1967 Rebellion was sparked by police misconduct against the African American community.
The press conference on May 19, the 97th birthday of Malcolm X (Hajj Malik El Shabazz, 1925-1965), was held under the banner of the Coalition for Police Transparency and Accountability (CPTA). This alliance formed following the police killing of Hakim Littleton (20) in July 2022 in northwest Detroit, encompasses a wide range of community groups.
Some of the organizations within the CPTA include: ACLU of Michigan; Black Legacy Coalition; Detroit and Michigan chapter of the National Lawyers Guild; Detroit Council of Elders; Detroit Justice Center; Detroit will breathe; Environmental Action Council of Eastern Michigan; The Hush House Black Community Museum; James and Grace Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership; Michigan Coalition for Human Rights; Michigan Liberation; Moratorium NOW! Coalition; National Conference of Black Lawyers, Michigan Chapter; Detroit Neighborhood Defense Service; Riverwise Magazine; Wayne County Criminal Defense Bar Association; We Detroiters, etc.
The CPTA begins the memorandum by stating that: “The Coalition for Police Transparency and Accountability (CPTA) calls for a federal investigation into a pattern of killings and excessive force by the Detroit Police Department (DPD) and a culture institution within the Department that promotes violence and racial discrimination within the Department and against members of the community.The mission of the CPTA is to expose police misconduct in all its forms and thereby demand transparency and police accountability as well as to garner community support for this effort. The Coalition was formed after the July 2020 murder of Hakim Littleton by Detroit Police Department officers. CPTA members include members community and organizations demanding an independent investigation into this murder and other instances of police misconduct in all its forms. to raise awareness in the community about police brutality, to hold the DPD accountable for its actions, and to demand true transparency from the department.
Recent background involving federal oversight of the Detroit police
Under the administration of former Mayor Roman Gribbs (1969-1973), relations between the African-American community deteriorated further after the 1967 rebellion. Mayor Jerome Cavanaugh (1961-1969) was in office during the rebellion and its consequences. A series of violent incidents involving the police, such as the March 1969 shootout between members of the New Africa Republic and law enforcement at the New Bethel Baptist Church, resulted in the deaths of two white policemen , causing one death. The police response was to fire hundreds of bullets into the church as ARN members and supporters left a conference to commemorate its first anniversary.
Although police arrested about 150 people still inside the church, Recorder’s Court Judge George Crockett, Jr., visited the jail where the attendees and others were being held and ordered their release due to a lack of evidence of their involvement in the murder. and officer injuries. Three people have been investigated as suspects in the shooting and murder of the two officers. However, no one was ever convicted in the incident. Between 1969 and 1973, Detroit police under the Cavanaugh and Gribbs administrations continued to engage in brutal and murderous activity.
In 1971, a police decoy unit was formed supposedly to deal with increasing violent crime in the city. Stop the Robberies Enjoy Safe Streets (STRESS) units were responsible for the deaths of more than 30 people, most of whom were African Americans. A citywide mobilization of community residents staged mass protests demanding the abolition of STRESS. Eventually, at least three youths took up arms against STRESS in late 1972 and early 1973 when several police officers were shot, at least one of whom was fatal.
This escalation of tensions from 1971 to 1973 set the stage for the election of the first African-American mayor Coleman A. Young (1974-1993). The Young administration implemented reforms using affirmative action to diversify the police force. However, near the end of his administration in November 1992, Malice Green, a 35-year-old African American, was brutally beaten to death by two white West Side police officers. One of the officers charged and convicted of Green’s murder had been a member of STRESS in the early 1970s. Both officers spent several years in prison where they were eventually released in 1998 on appeal.
After Young’s departure, the administration of his successor, Dennis Archer, became notorious for a sharp rise in police killings of civilians. In 1996, the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality was formed, which fought for accountability for wrongful killings. Finally, in 2000, the US Department of Justice under President Bill Clinton launched a federal investigation into the use of lethal force and poor prison conditions. After three years of two federal consent judgments were entered against the Detroit police, a series of monitors were hired to oversee the reform process which lasted from 2003 until it was thrown out during the controversial management emergencies and the bankruptcy of the city of Detroit.
CPTA documents ongoing Detroit police abuse
Citing a number of police killings of individuals such as Caso Jackson (25) in 2015; Bradley Carey, (54) in 2016; Raynard Burton, (19) in 2017; to name a few, the CPTA makes a compelling case for review by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. The refusal of the Michigan Attorney General’s office under Dana Nessel to even conduct an investigation into the 2020 police killing of Hakim Littleton, where law enforcement officers responsible for his death were exonerated by the county attorney of Wayne, Kym Worthy, strengthens the case for the feds. intervention.
During the outpouring of outrage following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020, thousands of people in Detroit took to the streets in righteous outrage reflecting developments across the country and in the stranger. Former police department chief James Craig, who had served as chief of law enforcement and deputy mayor, ordered officers to violently attack protesters. About 400 people were arrested without cause and many suffered serious injuries, including wounds inflicted by rubber bullets, clubs, stun grenades and other tactical crowd control weapons.
Both Craig and Duggan have refused to accept any responsibility for the abuse and harm inflicted on people exercising their right to assemble. Eventually, Craig stepped down in 2021 after police victims sued in US District Court, which helped win a temporary restraining order against the DPD. Members of the leading anti-racism organization, Detroit Will Breathe, continue to be harassed by the city government and the courts.
The CPTA memorandum makes it clear that the new leadership of Chief James White turned out to be no better than Craig. Civil lawsuits filed by victims of brutality remain unresolved due to the legal tactics of obstructionism used by the Duggan administration.
In conclusion, the memorandum states about the current situation in 2022: “The CPTA has carefully directed its concerns and requests to Michigan government actors and agencies responsible for addressing issues regarding policing that the coalition has raised. . Nonetheless, there was no meaningful and effective response, leaving the CPTA with the only remaining option of seeking federal intervention. Thus, Department of Justice officials are respectfully requested to investigate not only the police killings, escalation of violence, and racial discrimination perpetrated by and within the Detroit Police Department, but also on the institutional culture that inspires and supports such misconduct.