The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Leaders Targeted

May 15, 2023

The City of Detroit is attacking free speech and the right to protest. Three years after 2020 protests broke out against police brutality and the murder of George Floyd, the City of Detroit has gone out of its way to prosecute protest leaders.

Nakia Wallace of Detroit Will Breathe is being prosecuted for blocking traffic and allegedly interfering with a city employee. Another leader, Tristan Taylor, faces four misdemeanor counts in a jury trial that begins June 8.

Those singled out had won a federal civil rights case against the Detroit Police Department. Their suit accused Detroit police of using illegal tactics and injuring protesters. The city was ordered to pay one million dollars in damages. Police were ordered to refrain from certain practices.

Charges were dropped against roughly 400 demonstrators, yet charges have been pursued against Wallace, Taylor, and two other Detroit Will Breathe leaders.

The City of Detroit has spent money to review hours of video footage—two times—looking specifically at those who had sued them in federal court. A former city attorney testified that the first video search tried to prove police never harmed protestors. Obviously that video review was unsuccessful—they lost in court!

The former city attorney testified the second video review was to try to bring criminal charges against these individuals who had sued them.

Beginning on May 29, 2020, there were 100 consecutive nights of spirited marches. Right from the start, police threw tear gas and used pepper spray and made mass arrests. A civil rights attorney representing defendants said, "We had to get a temporary restraining order entered. They were massively arresting people without any probable cause to do so. No matter what’s going on, you have a right to not to be arrested without any probably cause."

Nakia Wallace said it well: "It’s just clear that the City of Detroit is very interested in setting an example and quelling dissent, and really repressing the right to protest."

These latest charges are more of the same—not only to attack those who successfully sued the city, but to send a message to anyone who might protest in the future that the city is ready to do whatever they can get away with to shut those protests down.

It is crucial to stand up and show support when such attacks are made. Attempts to quell dissent deserve to backfire!