CPTA Statement on January 6 Coup Attempt
The Coalition for Police Transparency and Accountability (CPTA), comprised of over 17 grassroots organizations in Detroit, was formed in response to the July 10, 2020 execution of Hakim Littleton, a 22-year-old African American male, by Detroit police officers. In press conferences following the incident, Trump-supporter Police Chief James Craig attempted to cover up the fact that Littleton had been murdered. CPTA demanded an independent investigation of the murder, and called for an intensification of community efforts to stem police violence in the Detroit metro area. We in CPTA believe that the January 6, 2021 coup attempt on the US Capitol holds many lessons for us who have been resisting police violence in our communities throughout the United States.
President Trump incited thousands of white supremacist insurrectionists to violently storm the US Capitol Building, seeking to upend the electoral process so that Trump, a delusional autocrat, could remain in power despite his recent certified electoral defeat. They came with the intent to assassinate anti-Trump government officials, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, US Congressman James E. Clyburn, Vice-President Mike Pense, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, as well as other Democrats and Republicans who did not support their insurgency. Ultimately, they came to install Trump as a dictator and establish a white supremacist government.
The insurgents’ violent intentions were apparent in their military cell units -- kill teams -- dispersed and coordinated in the large crowd. They were a well-organized, military-trained militia, identified by their combat uniforms and military-styled “hand-to-shoulder” formations, consistently used by elite military units in preparation for seizing a building. Five people died as a result of their reckless actions. A dry run for this assault had occurred at the Michigan State Capitol, where investigative evidence has confirmed that a Trump-inspired, terrorist white nationalist coalition had planned to assassinate Governor Gretchen Whitmer, and later targeted Jocelyn Benson, Michigan’s Secretary of State. These criminals openly brandished their military-grade automatic weapons inside and outside the Michigan Capitol Building.
During the attack on the US Capitol, complicit US Capitol police were captured on video, proudly taking selfies with insurgents and wearing red pro-Trump hats. We watched as they eagerly removed barricades and stepped aside to allow the violent mob to enter the Capitol Building. They even directed the insurgents through the labyrinth of the Capitol corridors to find their targets. The FBI, the Secret Service, the Capitol police, and other law enforcement agencies warned that such violent acts were imminent, but stood down. The complicity of these government forces has been confirmed by reputable news agencies.
CPTA sees this attack by white supremacist groups and their government collaborators as an escalating threat to the safety of all citizens, not only elected officials. These insurgents live among us. They do not believe in racial equality. They do not respect the rights of people of color. They resent that people of color have the right to vote and may constitute the majority. They fear the demise of the world of white dominance that they have known and enjoyed. Most threatening to all of us, they believe they are justified in using violence to impede change, to ensure the continuation of their privilege and political agendas.
Police and other law enforcement agents were a significant cohort of the insurrection, where assumptions of racial superiority, white privilege, entitlement, and white male authority were on full, barbaric display. Perhaps this ruthless face of white supremacy was new to some. It was not new to African Americans and other people of color in the United States. We see it routinely in the police officers who terrorize our communities with impunity.
We call upon all citizens to recognize the deadly intent of policing in our communities by forces similar to those who vandalized the US Capitol. The January 6 assault is a wake up call to those who continue to dream of and advocate for police reform. Though Detroiters have fought for decades to reform the Detroit Police Department, police in Detroit are still brutalizing citizens, and still murdering African Americans. Since 2008, Detroit has paid out nearly $27 million in tax dollars to settle police violence lawsuits, “much higher than what similarly sized cities have paid out…. But the disparity is even bigger than that [because there were] several large lawsuit settlements that city officials never disclosed” (Ross Jones, 7 Action News WXYZ). The Detroit police chief is still attempting to cover up or justify excessive violence, and the doors to all the agencies responsible for police oversight and redress of grievances are closed to the people.
From its inception, the function of policing in the United States has been to intimidate, contain, restrain, oppress, brutalize and murder Africans and other people of color. That function has not changed over the centuries. The underlying objective has been genocide against African Americans, so that from the beginning to this very day, unjust arrests, incarceration and killing of Black men have been police priorities. This historical fact explains why the law enforcement agents at the US Capitol did not brutalize, arrest or kill the insurgents. White police know that their duty does not include inflicting harm or injury on other whites. They serve the ruling class as domestic troops in a war against people of color. Their consistent use of excessive force, riot gear, toxic gas, tanks and other military-style weaponry against Black Lives Matter demonstrators illustrates this fact.
In CPTA we are bringing to light this essential truth about the role of police, so that we can be free of lies such as “the police are our friends, they keep us safe” that continue to confuse so many. As we understand more clearly the historical function of policing, we can intensify our efforts to end the police violence that devastates our communities, and keeps us in perpetual grief over the loss of our young men and women, our future. Having freed ourselves from this long-standing, debilitating deceit, we will carry out the work of devising new policies and agencies of community safety.
Proclamation for the Safety and Equity of Black and Brown Communities, and for Actual Transparency and Accountability in Policing
WHEREAS, the Detroit Police Department (“DPD”) has attacked unarmed people exercising their First Amendment rights in the streets;
WHEREAS, there were four police shootings of Detroit residents in the month of July 2020 alone, three of which were fatal;
WHEREAS, Hakim Littleton was one of the young Black men killed by DPD, on July 10, 2020;
WHEREAS, Detroit Police Chief James Craig has and continues to cover up the facts related to these police officer killings;
WHEREAS, Police Chief Craig has issued several contradictory explanations of his officers’ actions the day Hakim Littleton was killed in an attempt to exonerate them;
WHEREAS, we know that we cannot rely on the DPD to handle this case with justice;
WHEREAS, we are grateful to the determination of this generation of activists who are furthering our struggle as a people through the Black Lives Matter movement;
WHEREAS, we support the calls coming out of the movement for necessary social programs that respond to our people’s basic needs, over steady increases to police department budgets;
WHEREAS, these members of our community have a right to protest injustice and fight for respect and dignity for Black lives;
WHEREAS, protesters have been attacked by police in riot gear, beaten with batons, restrained in choke holds, mowed down by a police vehicle, subjected to lethal sprays and gases, and shot with rubber bullets;
WHEREAS, some protesters and observers have been hospitalized for injuries inflicted by DPD and other policemen;
WHEREAS, a lawsuit has been filed by protesters against DPD and Police Chief Craig;
WHEREAS, as a result of the lawsuit, an injunction has been issued against DPD restraining it from using batons, rubber bullets, lethal sprays and gases, and other modes of excessive force on protesters;
WHEREAS, Police Chief Craig continues to cover up and exonerate the criminal actions of his officers involved in abuse against those in the streets;
WHEREAS, Police Chief Craig supports surveillance against private citizens, and the use of facial recognition software that has been proven to falsely identify African Americans and other people of color;
WHEREAS, communities in Detroit are in need of jobs with a livable wage, affordable housing, quality education, quality healthcare, mental health services, substance abuse programs, youth programs, and running water in order to live a safe life with dignity and respect; and
WHEREAS, the DPS Police Command Center carries out surveillance and policing of school children, their parents and other community members, and facilitates the entrapment of students in the school-to-prison pipeline, requiring costly funding that could be better spent on essential educational and social services programs for the students and their families.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT HEREBY PROCLAIMED by the Coalition for Police Transparency and Accountability, of Detroit, Michigan, that we demand an independent investigation into the police killing of Hakim Littleton.
THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER PROCLAIMED that we demand an independent investigation into the killing of Darien Walker and the other young men who died at the hands of DPD.
THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER PROCLAIMED that we demand official public hearings on the police killing of Hakim Littleton, Darien Walker and others in our community.
THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER PROCLAIMED that we demand an end to police violence against groups and individuals demonstrating in the streets against systemic racism and police violence.
THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER PROCLAIMED that we demand the dropping of all charges, penalties and fees against protesters, legal observers and first aid workers.
THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER PROCLAIMED that we demand the names and badge numbers of police officers involved in citizen complaints and force investigations be released to the public.
THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER PROCLAIMED that we demand that officers with a long history of citizen complaints and/or force investigations be denied promotions in the department.
THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER PROCLAIMED that we demand police officers who fail to wear or turn on their body cameras be disciplined/penalized, and that all body and dash camera footage from officer involved shootings be released to the public in its entirety within a reasonable amount of time after the incident.
THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER PROCLAIMED that we demand the resignation of Detroit Police Chief James Craig.
THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER PROCLAIMED that we demand a livable wage, job programs, affordable housing, quality education, quality healthcare, mental health services, substance abuse programs, youth programs, and any other social programs needed for communities to live a safe life with dignity and respect.
THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER PROCLAIMED that we demand that every resident household have access to clean, running water.
THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER PROCLAIMED that we demand that the DPS Police Command Center be immediately closed.
THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER PROCLAIMED that Black Lives Matter.
Dated: November 21, 2020
By: Coalition for Police Transparency and Accountability
- Black Legacy Coalition
- Detroit and Michigan Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild
- Detroit Council of Elders
- Detroit Justice Center
- Detroit Will Breathe
- East Michigan Environmental Action Council
- The Hush House Black Community Museum
- James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership
- Keiga Foundation
- Michigan Coalition for Human Rights
- Michigan Liberation
- Moratorium Now Coalition
- National Conference of Black Lawyers, Michigan Chapter
- Riverwise Magazine
- Wayne County Criminal Defense Bar Association
- We The People of Detroit