James Craig, who brutalized BLM protesters as Detroit's Police Chief, says he supports Canadian truckers

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

James Craig, the former chief of the Detroit Police Department who is currently running as a Republican candidate for governor of Michigan, said he supports the Canadian anti-vaccination protesters who have paralyzed travel across the border with their blockade of trucks.

"I stand with the truckers," Craig said in a statement issued Friday. "I support all working people who are standing up for personal freedom."

It seems that if Craig is a defender of the right to protest, he is selective in his support, however.

In 2020, DPD responded with a crackdown when Black Lives Matter protesters, led by local group Detroit Will Breathe, took to the streets of Detroit as part of the wave of protests across the nation against police brutality, following the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George of Floyd.

Craig tried to get ahead of the situation. In a press conference, Craig said he supported the Minneapolis Police Department firing the four officers involved in Floyd's death, and even went as far as calling it a "murder." He also issued a memo to his department reiterating its use-of-force policy, which prohibits neck restraints, and also emphasized the importance of de-escalation in altercations.

Under Craig's leadership, DPD responded to the protests by issuing a curfew. When the protesters defied the curfew, DPD responded by firing tear gas and rubber bullets at them.

In another incident, when BLM protesters blocked the streetcar on Woodward Avenue, DPD again responded with force.

Detroit's little QLine streetcar hardly compares to the $300 million of goods transported across the Ambassador Bridge every day. The Canadian blockade is causing auto plants to shut down, and holding up fellow truckers who get paid by the delivery.

The actions of a few are now infringing on the lives of many on both sides of the border. So much for "personal freedom."

The police violence in Detroit got so bad that reporters routinely got caught in the crosshairs, and the city had to start issuing large, colorful badges to try to help identify members of the press. And last year, five legal observers filed a lawsuit against Craig, Mayor Mike Duggan, and the City of Detroit, alleging that their civil rights were violated by DPD, which left them physically and emotionally scarred by the show of force.

Another man who was hurt by DPD during the 2020 protests filed a lawsuit alleging that the Detroit Police Department "has a demonstrable pattern and unwritten policy in place to ignore and thereby encourage unlawful and unconstitutional actions of its officers."

It should be noted that unlike the BLM protests in other cities, Detroit's did not see arson or looting. The violence was nearly entirely asymmetrical, carried out mostly by Craig's police department.

DPD and the protesters eventually settled into a sort of truce, with DPD escorting the protesters' marches through the city. But Craig, ever a political striver, couldn't resist the urge to make numerous appearances on Fox News, where he demonized the protesters as "Marxists" who were "financed" by "outsiders" who were trying to "undermine our government."

"It's coordinated. It's planned, and not to mention it’s financed," Craig said during an episode of Fox & Friends in September 2020. "They are carrying out a mission, and it certainly is not about Breonna Taylor; it wasn't about George Floyd."

What's funny is that is exactly what is happening with the Canadian protest.

The Canadian blockade is ostensibly about a small minority who refuse the country's vaccination mandate for international truckers (about 90% of the country's truckers are vaccinated). But the protest is funded by donors on crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe and GiveSendGo, and when Canada tried to block GiveSendGo from dispersing the donations, the U.S.-based company responded by tweeting "Canada has absolutely ZERO jurisdiction over how we manage our funds here at GiveSendGo."

Even former President Donald Trump has offered support to the Canadian protesters, and Trump flags have been spotted among the Canadian protesters, along with Nazi symbols.

Speaking of Nazis, in 2019, Craig's DPD gently escorted a group of Neo-Nazis during Detroit's Motor City Pride festival — and looked the other way when Neo-Nazi leader Burt Colucci shoved a woman to the ground.

Once regarded as a frontrunner, Craig's campaign for governor hit a major setback right out the gate, when protesters crashed his campaign announcement event. Apparently, Trump's team was so embarrassed that it distanced itself from Craig. It seems like Craig will say anything to win right-wing support, even if it means hypocrisy over support for protesters.

On Friday, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens sought a court order to authorize him to forcibly remove protesters from the Ambassador Bridge.

We have to wonder, though, if the Canadian police use force, whose side will Craig be on?

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About The Author

Lee DeVito

Leyland "Lee" DeVito grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, where he read Metro Times religiously due to teenaged-induced boredom. He became a contributing writer for Metro Times in 2009, and Editor in Chief in 2016. In addition to writing, he also supplies occasional illustrations. His writing has been published...
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