The Detroit court declares hundreds of arrests of Black Lives Matter illegal because tickets were issued by cops that had nothing to do with the arrest of the protesters. In mass arrests, the arresting officer must be paired with an accused to be a witness.
Activists in Detroit have achieved important legal victories after demonstrating for more than 150 consecutive days this spring and summer in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and in protest against the police killings of African Americans, including Hakim Littleton in Detroit.
On January 14, Judge Larry Williams of the 36th Detroit District Court dismissed 40 charges against 30 protesters brought by the city of Detroit mainly during the first weekend of protests, May 29 and 31, 2020. Forced to dismiss the charges against 238 other people arrested on January 26.
The protests were led by Detroit Will Breathe. The bulk of the arrested protesters were represented by the Detroit Coordinated Defense Coalition, made up of the National Lawyers Guild, the Neighborhood Defender Service, the Detroit Justice Center and the Wayne County Criminal Defense Bar Association. Lawyers for these groups have defended hundreds of DWB protesters.
The city drops the charges but continues the counter-pursuit
Liberation News spoke with Kathy Murphy, a member of the National Lawyers Guild and the Wayne County Criminal Defense Law Society, and one of the attorneys involved in the legal team. Murphy explained what led to this important victory: “The town would round up the arrested people, take them to the basement of Little Caesars Arena, and have the tickets signed by seated policemen who had nothing to do with the police. demonstrations.
“During the debates on the disclosure motions in several courtrooms before several different judges, it became clear that the city would not be able to identify the officers who made the arrest for each particular arrest. They could not match the arresting officers to the defendants, and therefore could not produce witnesses when the cases came to trial. “
Murphy pointed out, “Activists have turned down the city’s offers of deferred sentencing with an admission of probable cause and even the city’s offer of dismissal with an admission of probable cause. They stood together to achieve this victory. “
Even dismissing hundreds of cases, the city said it still intends to prosecute protesters it sees as the leaders of the protests, including DWB organizer Tristan Taylor.
Ironically, the same day the city announced it was dismissing charges against 238 Detroit activists Will Breathe, the Detroit City Council, by a five-to-four majority, voted in favor of spending $ 200,000 to engage Clark Hill business law firm to take legal action against DWB. “Civil conspiracy” to demonstrate against racism and political brutality. The city’s lawsuit takes the form of a counterclaim to a case brought by Detroit activists Will Breathe against the city for violent tactics used by police to quell peaceful protests.
The DWB lawsuit has already won an injunction against the Detroit cops, preventing them from using some of their most oppressive tactics against peaceful protests, including the use of batons and shields, chemicals like tear gas and pepper spray, and rubber bullets.
Racist backlash in Shelby Township as those arrested face serious charges
The Detroit suburb of Shelby Township has made it clear that blacks and Maroons are not welcome in this fiercely racist community. On October 24, protesters organized by Detroit Will Breathe and SHIFT, Suburban Solidarity for Social Justice, gathered for a non-violent march, calling for the resignation or impeachment of Police Chief Robert Shelide.
This was after Shelide was allowed to resume his activities as usual after a month-long suspension due to vile comments on his personal social media page in which he called the protesters “savage savages” and ” vicious subhumans ”who deserved to be disposed of in“ body bags. ”
Immediately after marching, militants were tracked down and attacked by five different police departments, members of SWAT, K-9 units and armed civilian militias. In addition to the brutality they faced that day, five protesters were charged with felonies and others were convicted of misdemeanor charges.
The Black and Brown Lives Movement has launched a fight to have these new accusations dropped. But newly elected Macomb County District Attorney Peter Lucido, along with other local officials, have chosen to endorse Jim Crow’s segregationist tactics and behavior that were used against protesters.
Six other Black Lives Matter protesters received arrest warrants on January 25 for their participation in the October 24 action. Activists view the additional accusations as retaliation after the backlash officials received following the January 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol by fascist and reactionary forces.
The charges against anti-racist protesters in Shelby Township reflect the history of Shelby Township as a “town at sunset” that will take all measures, including state violence and intimidation, to to ensure and maintain white supremacy.
Solidarity with Detroit Will Breathe, SHIFT and Movement for Black and Brown Lives in demanding that these false accusations be immediately dropped by officials in the Township of Shelby.