Court Battles

Federal judge bars Detroit police from using clubs, chokeholds on protesters

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A federal judge has temporarily blocked the use of chokeholds, rubber bullets and chemical agents by Detroit police against protesters and legal observers.

In a decision on Friday, District Court Judge Laurie Michelson partially granted a restraining order sought by an activist group, Reuters reported.

Detroit Will Breathe alleged in a suit that officers violated demonstrators’ First and Fourth Amendment rights by responding to peaceful protests with “beatings, tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, sound cannons, flash grenades, chokeholds, and mass arrests without probable cause.”

The motion focused primarily on demonstrations that took place between May 29 and June 2, as well as two more on July 10 and Aug. 22, according to Reuters. A Detroit officer was charged in July with attacking three credentialed journalists with rubber pellets in May as they covered a downtown protest.

“The Court finds that temporary injunctive relief is warranted and grants in part plaintiffs’ motion for a Temporary Restraining Order,” Michelson wrote, granting the restraining order for at least 14 days.

“This is a victory to be sure, but it is the first battle in what’s about to be a long war,” Detroit Will Breathe said in a statement.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig, meanwhile, told MLive that “nothing has changed” despite the order.

“Every time we’ve had to use less-than-lethal force, it’s been to address violence by protesters, resisting arrest, or when they’ve tried to take over an intersection in violation of the law,” he said in a statement.

Craig during a Fox News interview also accused the protesters of misrepresenting how peaceful they had been.

“When they refused to be arrested and then resisted arrest, yes, force was used, but just force that was necessary,” he told Fox News.

Detroit Police spokeswoman Sgt. Nicole Kirkwood told MLive that Craig “does not condone excessive force… period.”

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