Judge bans Detroit police from using batons, tear gas against protesters

A federal judge in Michigan has ordered Detroit police to limit the use of force when confronting protesters.

U.S. District Court Judge Laurie Michelson issued a temporary restraining order Friday banning police from using chokeholds, batons, and tear gas, in a decision that will likely anger President Donald Trump.

Judge limits police force in Michigan

Detroit, like many cities around the country, has been the site of anti-racism protests — for 100 days — that have included violent clashes between police and demonstrators.

The nationwide unrest has sparked a debate over what exactly counts as a “peaceful” assembly and whether anarchy or excessive police force is a bigger problem. At least one judge appears to believe the latter, ordering Michigan police to stand down from using any force whatsoever without “probable cause.”

The order strikes out batons, tear gas, shields, chokeholds, rubber bullets, and sound cannons as methods of maintaining order. Michelson’s decision is a victory for Detroit Will Breathe, an activist group that sued the city on Monday for alleged violations of protesters’ civil rights.

While the judge has called on police and activists to find a compromise, Detroit Will Breathe says they are seeking “permanent relief,” whatever that means.

“It’s a win, but the fight continues,” said Jack Schulz, who filed the lawsuit. “For a short period, we know that the police will not be able to use the brutal tactics they have in the past against peaceful protesters without violating a court order.”

President Trump has repeatedly condemned “anarchists” on America’s streets while advocating for “law and order,” as police departments face a wave of harsh rhetoric and restrictions on force that many say are making it impossible to do their jobs.

Police chief responds

Detroit Police Chief James Craig said that force is not being used against peaceful demonstrators.

He also explained that “force, in and of itself, doesn’t mean brutality,” a position that many activists seem to reject.

“We’re going to continue to do our jobs the way we’ve done it,” he said. “We respect peaceful protesters. We understand the judge’s order and we’ll make sure the protesters understand if there’s any aggression or violation of law, they will get ample notice like we’ve done in the past.”

President Trump has closed a polling gap in Michigan since the protests erupted.

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