Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s call to end policing in the wake of the police shooting of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, was “reckless and disgusting” and her comments were made to pull attention to herself rather than to be productive, Detroit Police Chief James Craig said Monday.
“She doesn’t speak for the majority of Detroiters,” Craig told CNN’s “New Day” about the Michigan Democrat. “The majority of Detroiters support this police department. They want effective and constitutional policing, and to make statements like this about policing certainly is counterproductive.”
Last week, Tlaib posted on Twitter that Wright’s shooting “wasn’t an accident. Policing in our country is inherently & intentionally racist. [Victim] Daunte Wright was met with aggression & violence. I am done with those who condone government funded murder. No more policing, incarceration, and militarization. It can’t be reformed.”
“Early this morning, unprovoked, an individual came into a crime scene and began shooting at our officers,’ Craig said Monday. “While we can’t defensively say those comments are the reason, but the anti-police role is just too much.”
Tlaib later expanded on her remarks, saying that “we continue to see death after death at the hands of police officers” and while she understands that many are concerned about public safety, “it’s clear more investment in police incarceration will not deliver that safety. Instead, we should be investing more resources to tackle poverty, education, and equities and increase job opportunities. We should be expanding mental health and social work professionals to respond to disputes before they escalate.”
Craig said her comments about mental health were “spot-on,” but also accused her of backtracking in the face of criticism.
“We don’t disagree with increasing support for mental health,” he said. “We have a massive mental health issue in our country today, and in a large part it is fueled by the pandemic. We get it. We understand it.”
However, he said that Tlaib, by offering further statements, was “pedaling back because she got so much pushback on her reckless comments. It doesn’t surprise me. She is now trying to take a softer approach.”
Meanwhile, Detroit is in a “constant state of readiness,” including this week with a verdict coming in the case of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in connection with the death of George Floyd.
“This is not my first time,” said Craig. “I spent my lion’s share in Los Angeles. I had a front seat to Rodney King and the acquittal of the officers and the subsequent unrest in L.A.”
Matters, though, are “very different” today because of the large-scale protests across the United States.
“We support peaceful protesting,” said Craig. “But we also saw a lot of violence, the rioting, the looting, the burning. So all of us who sit in this seat are concerned and I got to tell you, candidly, whichever way the outcome of this trial goes, I don’t think it’s going to make a difference. I truly believe that if he’s acquitted or he is charged…we will see violence. I believe it.”
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