Advance Notice: Briefs

Detroit Will Breathe claims victory in suit against city of Detroit

By: - October 14, 2022 2:07 pm

About 100 Detroit Will Breathe demonstrators rallied and marched from the Rosa Parks Federal Building just east of downtown Detroit on Aug. 5, 2020 | Ken Coleman

A Detroit-based Black Lives Matter organization that formed in the wake of George Floyd’s Minneapolis police killing in 2020 has claimed victory in its federal lawsuit against the city of Detroit.

Detroit Will Breathe (DWB) and others sued the city over their treatment during protests two years ago. DWB led dozens of demonstrators after the Floyd killing. The group argued that the Detroit Police Department used violent tactics to subdue some protesters, violating their constitutional rights.

The judgment offers DWB and some individual plaintiffs a total of more than $1 million in compensation. It still needs approval from a judge and the nine-member Detroit City Council, according to the city’s charter.

“This offer of judgment resolves the case in our favor and means that the federal court will rule that the city of Detroit and the Detroit Police Department violated the constitutional rights of protestors… we also defeated the city’s multiple attempts to bring a baseless and retaliatory countersuit against us,” a portion of the DWB statement reads.

A federal judge in 2021 dismissed the city of Detroit’s legal claims against DWB, ruling that it failed to prove that demonstrators conspired with one another to cause civil unrest and harm police officers last summer.

In 2020, DWB called for Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and then-Police Chief James Craig to resign because of their response to anti-police brutality demonstrations and for demilitarizing the police. The organization also sought to disrupt Craig’s GOP gubernatorial campaign announcement in Detroit on Sept. 14, 2021.

John Roach, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s spokesman, confirmed on Friday that DWB and other parties “have accepted the city’s offer, but we’re not adding any comment,” said Roach.   

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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 Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.

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