One person was killed in downtown Detroit after someone in an SUV fired shots into a crowd of people protesting George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis custody, a Detroit police spokeswoman said Saturday.
The shooting occurred about 11:30 p.m. Friday near Detroit’s Greektown entertainment district as officers were confronted with dozens of protesters, said Sgt. Nicole Kirkwood, a police department spokeswoman. She said an officer wasn’t involved in the shooting.
Kirkwood said the victim was a 19-year-old man, who was pronounced dead at the hospital. The suspect pulled up in a Dodge Durango and fired shots into the crowd, she said.
Earlier in the evening a Detroit police commander was struck with a rock and hospitalized.
Officers, many in riot gear, confronted the protesters and formed lines across streets.
Dozens of arrests were made and police said many of those taken into custody were not Detroit residents, WJBK-TV reported.
The demonstration began earlier in the day and was peaceful as protesters marched by Detroit Police Headquarters. As evening wore on, some in the crowd became belligerent.
“We know that the individuals from outside the city of Detroit who converged at the protest location don’t represent this city,” Police Chief James Craig told reporters earlier in the evening.
The number of arrests and injuries were not immediately available. It also was not clear if any property was damaged.
‘An appropriate response’
Speaking earlier in the day with CBC, Craig said that arresting and charging the former Minneapolis police officer shown in bystander video kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who subsequently died, was an “appropriate response.”
“I’m all for due process, and arresting someone on probable cause does not translate into a certainty of prosecution,” said Craig. “But I think given the dynamics in Minneapolis, it’s important to act swiftly —but it often makes me think what was going on before this.”
The arrest of Floyd, 46, was captured by an onlooker’s cellphone video that went viral and showed the police officer, Derek Chauvin, pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck as he moaned: “Please, I can’t breathe.” Floyd, a Houston native who had worked as a nightclub security guard, was accused of trying to pass counterfeit money at a corner store.
On Friday, Hennepin County Attorney’s Office announced the third-degree murder and manslaughter charges.
Violence in Minneapolis erupted after video of the incident went viral, with fires and vandalism breaking out.
When CBC reached Craig to speak on Friday afternoon, he said there were roughly 700 peaceful protesters in front of police heaquarters.
“We support it. We understand the anger,” he said. “I’m not going to say it could never happen. There’s unrest in Los Angeles, a city I called home for 28 years. There was outbreak in Ohio, Denver, in the state of Kentucky.”
“I may have been one of the sole police leaders that came out very assertively that I felt strongly that this officer who is responsible for this horrific act needs to be held accountable and should be arrested now — and so the activist community here clearly responded.”
Jerome Vaughn, news director for Detroit’s NPR station WDET, who also spoke before Friday night’s violence broke out, agreed with Craig, saying Detroiters’ anger over “yet another example of a black man being killed by police officers” is justified.
For Vaughn, Chauvin’s arrest may not go far enough to mitigate all of the anger over the incident, considering the other three officers who responded to the incident were also fired but have not been taken into custody.
I think there are threads of injustice and anger that are there in Minneapolis now that were here in Detroit in 1967.– James Vaughn, news director for Detroit’s NPR station WDET
Detroit is no stranger to racially-driven violence between citizens and police. By the end of the 1967 Detroit Riots, 43 people were killed, with hundreds injured, more than 7,000 arrested and whole blocks destroyed in the span of five days.
The riot started after police raided an after-hours club in a predominantly African-American neighbourhood. Hundreds of fires were reported in riot-torn Detroit.
“I think there are threads of injustice and anger that are there in Minneapolis now that were here in Detroit in 1967,” said Vaughn.
Tap on the player below for a look-back at the 1967 Detroit Riots: