The following is a guest contribution to Fighting Words from a Detroit activist.
By Jessica Nadeau
I am an independent photographer who has been following Detroit Will Breathe as the group holds marches and sit-ins protesting police brutality, and demanding reform that will benefit the struggling and disenfranchised communities in Detroit.
These marches have been consistently peaceful, even when police have attempted to instigate violence.
Saturday night, August 22, we marched from the Patrick V. McNamara Federal Building, to the intersection of Woodward Ave & Grand River Ave, with the demand that Federal agents complicit in “Operation Legend” be expelled from the city. These agents have been terrorizing neighborhoods in Detroit since July 23, 2020.
When we reached Woodward, the march leadership announced that we would be Occupying the space until our demands were met.
Many people chose to leave, but around 100 people did stay. I was one of them.
Phone in one hand, camera in the other, I followed the riot line of officers as they approached on Woodward. They dismantled the barricades, and wasted no time squaring off with the line of protestors. The protestors were chanting, “We don’t see no riot here. Why are you in riot gear?” Until the police launched their attack. There is a video from a balcony above, that demonstrates that the police used an offensive tactical formation to spearhead an attack on the group of protestors. As soon a contact was made, the chanting stopped and screams of terror erupted from the crowd as they were barreled into, beaten with batons, sprayed with tear gas and mace, and forcibly thrown to the ground.
Our protest’s Medical team (Medics) attempted to help injured protestors, and were brutally beaten as well. Several Medics attempted to stand near the medical supply station to protect the supplies of water and first aid materials, but they were targeted and brutalized without cause. I stood right next to them, and was not targeted in the same way, I was not a priority.
I continued filming, as people were being beaten with batons. Several severe injuries occurred: two fractured skulls, a broken arm, broken ribs, facial lacerations, and plenty of irreversible trauma. Several people were released to the hospital for their injuries.
Once everyone who was captured was rounded up, they were all put on a city bus, and eventually taken to the Detroit Detention Center on Mound Rd. & Nevada St..
No Justice, No Peace.