Other Group

Detroit Will Breathe

Location:

Detroit, MI

Formation:

May 2020

Founders:

Nakia Wallace and Tristan Taylor

Detroit Will Breathe (DWB) is a left-of-center racial activist organization that leads protests and advocates for the defunding of the Detroit Police Department. [1] Detroit Will Breathe was founded in May 2020. [2]

A Time magazine article credited DWB with being part of the “shadow campaign” that helped President Joe Biden win the 2020 presidential election. [3]

Background

Detroit Will Breathe was established in May 2020 in the wave of national protests and riots after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. [4] The organization leads demonstrations against police, filed a lawsuit against the police, has called for defunding the Detroit Police Department. [5]

Detroit Will Breathe eventually became the main umbrella group in the Detroit greater metropolitan area for the Black Lives Matter movement. [6] Detroit Will Be has denounced all efforts for cooperation with police, claiming, “If you work with the police, you work for the police.” The organization has also claimed that police officers “have acted as agents of state violence” since the beginning of policing. [7]

Leadership

Nakia Wallace, a 23-year-old African-American studies major at Wayne State University who claims to have been involved in protests since age 12, teamed with 37-year-old Tristan Taylor to create Detroit Will Breathe. The two have since been arrested in anti-police protests. Detroit police reportedly placed Wallace in a chokehold. [8]

The Detroit News reported in the summer of 2020 that the group did not register with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. Wallace told the newspaper that members discussed making the group a charitable organization, but Taylor opposed the idea. [9]

Advocacy

Detroit Will Breathe criticized police for the shooting death of a 20-year-old African American man. [10]

The organization lists 23 demands for left-wing changes to law enforcement policies, including demands to defund the police, end cash bail, and drop all charges and citations against protestors. Detroit Will Breathe also makes far-left demands ostensibly unrelated to policing, including calls to make Detroit a sanctuary city for illegal immigrants, stop all evictions, and complete abolish the practice of home foreclosures. [11]

Detroit Will Breathe worked closely with the suburban women’s organization Fems for Dems in 2020 to help flip Michigan in support of President Biden. [12]

Detroit Will Breathe also held protest marches against Operation LeGend, a Trump administration law enforcement effort to try to curb gun violence in major cities. The federal operation was named after four-year-old LeGend Taliferro, who was fatally shot in Kansas City, Missouri in June 2020. [13]

Taylor and Detroit Will Breathe organizer Lloyd Simpson teamed up with left-wing Party for Socialism and Liberation members Shabbir Manjee in Chicago, and Joel Ibrahim and Lillian House in Denver for an online forum on December 5, 2020 to talk about the “anti-racist” movement. At the forum, Simpson called the criminal justice system a tool of state repression and added that narratives from media, the state, and the “neoliberal order” are as subversive and destructive to society as overt police brutality. [14]

Litigation

Detroit Will Breathe sued the Detroit Police Department, alleging that the department used excessive force against protesters. [15] After winning a lawsuit in federal court in September 2020 to temporarily bar police from using tear gas, batons, rubber bullets and shields against protesters, the organization held a celebratory rally in front of the Detroit Police Headquarters. [16]

In late 2020, the City of Detroit and the Detroit Police Department filed a counter-lawsuit against Detroit Will Breathe, accusing the organization of conspiring to incite riots and commit violence against police officers. The countersuit claims that Detroit Will Breathe engaged in a civil conspiracy to incite riots, destroy property, and commit acts of violence during the summer protests. The suit also said several officers sustained severe injuries when protesters “hurled dangerous objects, including rocks and missiles at them.” The City of Detroit is asking the court to make Detroit Will Breathe pay the city for property damage. [17]

The Detroit City Council approved $200,000 to fund the lawsuit against the organization. Detroit Will Breathe launched a $50,000 GoFundMe campaign to help counter the city’s lawsuit. [18] Far-left U.S. Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) called the city’s lawsuit against Detroit Will Breathe “an unthinkable assault on constitutional rights.” [19]

References

  1. Huffman, Bryce. “Detroit’s younger, older activists divided on current protest movement.” Bridge Michigan. October 24, 2020. Accessed February 13, 2021. https://www.bridgemi.com/urban-affairs/detroits-younger-older-activists-divided-current-protest-movement ^
  2. Dado, Natasha. “Detroit Will Breathe to hold rally in celebration of federal judge’s order on police tactics.” WDIV-TV. September 5, 2020. Accessed February 13, 2021. https://www.clickondetroit.com/news/local/2020/09/05/detroit-will-breathe-to-hold-rally-in-celebration-of-federal-judges-order-on-police-tactics/ ^
  3. Ball, Molly. “The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election.” February 4, 2021. Accessed February 13, 2021. https://time.com/5936036/secret-2020-election-campaign/ ^
  4. Dado, Natasha. “Detroit Will Breathe to hold rally in celebration of federal judge’s order on police tactics.” WDIV-TV. September 5, 2020. Accessed February 13, 2021. https://www.clickondetroit.com/news/local/2020/09/05/detroit-will-breathe-to-hold-rally-in-celebration-of-federal-judges-order-on-police-tactics/ ^
  5. Huffman, Bryce. “Detroit’s younger, older activists divided on current protest movement.” Bridge Michigan. October 24, 2020. Accessed February 13, 2021. https://www.bridgemi.com/urban-affairs/detroits-younger-older-activists-divided-current-protest-movement ^
  6. Gelardi, Chris. “For a Glimpse of the Racial Justice Protests’ Staying Power, Look To Detroit.” The Appeal. October 29, 2020. Accessed February 13, 2021. https://theappeal.org/detroit-will-breathe-black-lives-matter-protests/ ^
  7. Political Code. Detroit Will Breath. Accessed February 13, 2021. https://detroitwillbreathe.info/index.html ^
  8. Huffman, Bryce. “Detroit’s younger, older activists divided on current protest movement.” Bridge Michigan. October 24, 2020. Accessed February 13, 2021. https://www.bridgemi.com/urban-affairs/detroits-younger-older-activists-divided-current-protest-movement ^
  9. Baramore, Jasmin. “Detroit Will Breathe organizers march on despite uncertainty.” Detroit News. June 19, 2020. Accessed February 13, 2021. https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/detroit-city/2020/06/19/detroit-breathe-organizers-march-despite-uncertainty/3223462001/ ^
  10. Mordock, Jeff. “Detroit, police strike back against Black Lives Matter rioters in first-of-its-kind lawsuit.” The Washington Times. December 22, 2020. Accessed February 13, 2021. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/dec/22/detroit-police-sue-detroit-will-breathe-bid-hold-b/ ^
  11. Our Demands. Detroit Will Breath. Accessed February 13, 2021. https://detroitwillbreathe.info/index.html ^
  12. Ball, Molly. “The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election.” February 4, 2021. Accessed February 13, 2021. https://time.com/5936036/secret-2020-election-campaign/ ^
  13. Dado, Natasha. “Detroit Will Breathe to hold rally in celebration of federal judge’s order on police tactics.” WDIV-TV. September 5, 2020. Accessed February 13, 2021. https://www.clickondetroit.com/news/local/2020/09/05/detroit-will-breathe-to-hold-rally-in-celebration-of-federal-judges-order-on-police-tactics/ ^
  14. Stout, Branson. “State repression focus of Detroit Will Breathe/PSL webinar.” Liberation. December 11, 2020. Accessed February 13, 2021. https://www.liberationnews.org/state-repression-focus-of-detroit-will-breathe-psl-webinar/ ^
  15. Dado, Natasha. “Detroit Will Breathe to hold rally in celebration of federal judge’s order on police tactics.” WDIV-TV. September 5, 2020. Accessed February 13, 2021. https://www.clickondetroit.com/news/local/2020/09/05/detroit-will-breathe-to-hold-rally-in-celebration-of-federal-judges-order-on-police-tactics/ ^
  16. Dado, Natasha. “Detroit Will Breathe to hold rally in celebration of federal judge’s order on police tactics.” WDIV-TV. September 5, 2020. Accessed February 13, 2021. https://www.clickondetroit.com/news/local/2020/09/05/detroit-will-breathe-to-hold-rally-in-celebration-of-federal-judges-order-on-police-tactics/ ^
  17. Mordock, Jeff. “Detroit, police strike back against Black Lives Matter rioters in first-of-its-kind lawsuit.” The Washington Times. December 22, 2020. Accessed February 13, 2021. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/dec/22/detroit-police-sue-detroit-will-breathe-bid-hold-b/ ^
  18. Inman, DeMicia. “Detroit city council approves funds for lawsuit against BLM protesters.” The Grio. January 27, 2021. Accessed February 13, 2021. https://thegrio.com/2021/01/27/detroit-city-council-approves-funds-lawsuit-blm-protesters/. ^
  19. Mordock, Jeff. “Detroit, police strike back against Black Lives Matter rioters in first-of-its-kind lawsuit.” The Washington Times. December 22, 2020. Accessed February 13, 2021. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/dec/22/detroit-police-sue-detroit-will-breathe-bid-hold-b/ ^
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Detroit Will Breathe


Detroit, MI