Ex-Chief Craig whines about settlement with protesters in deceptive, hyperbolic statement

The former Detroit police chief made erroneous claims in his tirade against the city for offering a settlement to protesters

click to enlarge Retired Detroit Police Chief James Craig. - Steve Neavling
Steve Neavling
Retired Detroit Police Chief James Craig.

Former Detroit Police James Craig said he’s “troubled” that the city is offering a nearly $1.3 million settlement to protesters who filed lawsuits alleging they were brutalized by his police department in the summer of 2020.

In a meandering and misleading statement Wednesday, Craig falsely claimed that his cops only used force “necessary to overcome violence perpetrated against officers.”

In fact, most of the force was used against peaceful protesters for violating a curfew or rallying in the streets. Police used batons, tear gas, rubber bullets, and batons to break up protests, leading to several lawsuits. Legal observers and journalists were also thrown to the ground and arrested for being in the vicinity of the rallies.

The protests were in response to the death of George Floyd, who was killed when a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes in May 2020. That officer, Derek Chauvin, was sentenced to 22 years in prison for murder.

The Detroit City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the settlement offer to protesters and legal observers.

In his campaign for governor, Craig, a Republican, has bragged about his department’s handling of the protests, baselessly claiming that his officers stopped the city from “burning.”

In his statement, Craig falsely claimed that “Detroit was the only major city in the country that did not burn.” In fact, fires didn’t break out in most major cities, where a vast majority of the protests were peaceful.

His officers, he said in the statement, “did not retreat like in cities of Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis, St. Louis and others across the country leading to endless days of violent protests that included attacks on law enforcement officers, destruction of government buildings, property and looting of businesses.”

Craig assailed council members for supporting the settlement, which the city said was offered to avoid costly trials.

“It’s shameful that the Detroit City Council would entertain such a motion using taxpayer dollars to reward a group of criminals whose goal was to create turmoil,” Craig said. “This is disgraceful to our brave men and women who put on the uniform and risk their own lives for the safety of our community. Our police officers deserve to be supported and clearly this is indicative of fostering support of law violators.”

During the State of the City in March, Mayor Mike Duggan blasted Craig for his record as a police chief, noting that violent crime didn’t decline until Craig was replaced with Chief James White in June 2021. Duggan also said Craig picked petty fights with prosecutors and federal law enforcement agencies, eroding partnerships to fight crime.

Craig’s campaign as governor was riddled with missteps, and he was removed from the ballot for submitting fake signatures.

He’s now running as a write-in candidate.

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About The Author

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling is an award-winning investigative journalist who operated Motor City Muckraker, an online news site devoted to exposing abuses of power and holding public officials accountable. Neavling also hosted Muckraker Report on 910AM from September 2017 to July 2018. Before launching Motor City Muckraker,...
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