Advance Notice: Briefs

Anti-police brutality group files federal suit against city of Detroit 

By: - August 31, 2020 4:29 pm

Nakia Wallace, co-founder of Detroit Will Breathe | Ken Coleman

The anti-police brutality group Detroit Will Breathe Monday announced during a noon press conference held outside the Theodore Levin U.S. Courthouse that it has filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Detroit.  

The anti-police brutality group Detroit Will Breathe Monday announced during a noon press conference held outside the Theodore Levin U.S. Courthouse | Ken Coleman

“We are asking that the court put an immediate stop to this rampant violence so that demonstrators can safely continue to exercise their right to organize, protest and fight for a better world,” said Amanda Ghannam, attorney for the plaintiffs. 

It seeks to outlaw the Detroit Police Department from using batons, riot gear, tear gas and rubber bullets against civilians. Leaders of the organization and its attorneys argued that Black Lives Matter protesters have suffered physical injuries sustained at the hands of police beginning on May 29, the first day of protest. The daily demonstrations followed the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd on Memorial Day.

The suit was filed against Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Police Chief James Craig, and police officers Stephen Anouti, Timothy Barr, David Hornshaw, and Mariah Erard.

Alex Anest, a protester who has volunteered as a “street medic” during many of the Detroit demonstrations, described how he was knocked down, clubbed, and threatened by Detroit police. He was one of four protesters who described how they were injured at the hands of Detroit police. 

Attorneys for the protesters are Ghannam and Jack Schulz of Schulz Law PLC; William Goodman and Julie Hurwitz of Goodman Hurwitz PLC; and Sean Riddell of the Riddell Law Firm, all on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild.

Jae Bass said that he was physically assaulted by Detroit police | Ken Coleman

“We now are going to hold police accountable for the murders and executions and the brutality that they dispense in our neighbors and in our communities,” Nakia Wallace, a Detroit Will Breathe co-founder. “We are going to hold elected and appointed officials accountable for what their police departments do.”

Sgt. Nicole Kirkwood, Detroit Police Department spokesperson, pointed out that the agency does not comment on pending litigation. 

Detroit Will Breathe has previously called for Duggan and Craig to resign. 

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Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.