DETROIT (WXYZ) — Detroit police arrested 44 people during a clash between officers and protesters at the intersection of Woodward and John R on Saturday night. Police say 17 of the arrests were residents of Detroit.
Protesters with the Detroit Will Breathe movement gathered in objection to Operation Legend, where federal agents have recently been embedded in cities to address gun violence.
The protest called for the initiative's immediate removal from the city, with Detroit Will Breathe organizers saying that it aims to "criminalize and terrorize Black and brown communities."
During Saturday night's protest, video shows protesters gathering on Woodward Avenue while chanting, "We don't see no riots here. Why are you in riot gear," as police in tactical uniforms stood across from them.
At one point, police began approaching demonstrators, and tear gas or pepper spray was dispersed. Protesters on Woodward Avenue were forcefully removed from the roadway, only to gather on Clifford, which is a side street, where the demonstration picked back up again.
"I am not going to let any group set up a Seattle zone of lawlessness here in the City of Detroit. That is non-negotiable," Detroit Police Chief James Craig said on Monday.
According to Craig, officers gave them several orders to disperse, and waited over an over before the decision was made to arrest people.
"The message is clear. You come to our city and you be disruptive, you will be arrested," Craig said.
Craig said they are looking at several videos posted to social media involving officers and protesters.
Also, Craig said that one protester used a green laser against officers, and it was originally reported by the DPD helicopter pilot.
In early July, the program launched in several states, including Detroit, Chicago and Cleveland. Operation Legend, combined with Operation Relentless Pursuit, brought a total of approximately 42 federal agents to Detroit, in addition to the many federal agents who have worked for decades with state and local partners on violent crime and other offenses.
To date, Operation Legend has resulted in the arrest of 22 people being charged with federal offenses. Officials say some were charged with multiple offenses.
Detroit Will Breathe will hold a mass meeting Monday at 6 p.m. in Detroit's Clark Park to address Saturday night's protest.