Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig enters Michigan governor’s race

He attempted to deliver his speech but quickly left as the protestors drowned him out

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Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig officially launched a campaign for governor of Michigan on Tuesday but his announcement was interrupted by protestors. 

“I have got one thing to say. I’m running for governor of the state of Michigan,” said Craig at his first event on Detroit’s Belle Isle. Local reporters captured on video the confrontation with protestors. 

James Craig
(Credit: YouTube screenshot)

The protestors, per The Detroit News, chanted things like “Hey hey, ho ho, James Craig has got to go!”, “James Craig is full of hate! We won’t let him win our state,” and “no justice, no peace, James Craig is still the police.”

Craig attempted to deliver his speech at the podium but quickly left as the protestors drowned him out.

“The DNR knew about the potential for protests yesterday, I’m told. … They indicated they were going to come and move the protesters back,” Craig told The Detroit News. “That never happened. So it makes me wonder if it was by design.”

One of the protestors, Rai Lanier, a member of Detroit Will Breathe, said the group was unsuccessful in its attempts to make contact with Craig when he was chief of police. 

“When you make the decision to say ‘I’m going to represent everyone,’ it’s a flag when you aren’t willing to meet,” Lanier said.

Prior to officially joining a slew of Republicans vying to unseat Democrat Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Craig retired from the police department and later formed what he called an “exploratory” campaign committee.

“Michiganders deserve competent, consistent leaders who will always put people before politics,” Craig said in an emailed statement, NBC News reports. “I spent 44 years protecting and serving my community, including eight years as chief of police in Detroit, and I’m prepared to lead from the front.”

The Detroit native started his policing career in the city in 1977 and served as the city’s chief of police from 2013 until June 1, 2021. He also worked as chief in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Portland, Maine, according to Michigan Radio

Craig released a video in August and announced the formation of an “exploratory” committee that lets him begin raising and spending money, theGrio previously reported.

“I led as chief of police — and began my life — on the streets of Detroit,” Craig said in a statement at the time. “Now it is time to travel the state and visit other communities. I will be talking with law enforcement, hosting small business roundtables, and meeting with voters in their homes to hear about the negative impact the current governor’s policies are having on their communities, their workplaces and their families.”

Seven other Republicans have created campaign committees: Army veteran Austin ChengeBob ScottRyan Kelley, a real estate broker who organized protests against the governor’s coronavirus restrictions, pastor Ralph Rebandt II, chiropractor, and lockdown opponent Garrett Soldano, conservative host Tudor Dixon and Articia Bomer.

Craig faced fierce criticism last summer for the excessive use of force used by police on Black Lives Matter protests over the death of George Floyd. He has also openly denounced the “defund the police” movement. In August, Craig launched a task force to create law enforcement policy recommendations.

Prior to announcing a run for governor of Michigan, Craig said he would accept former President Donald Trump’s endorsement.

“If the president gives me his endorsement, I’ll accept it,” Craig said. “I want to be defined as James Craig, not Donald Trump. I’m looking ahead to 2022.”

Craig, who retired in June, had been signaling his intention to run for months. He has blamed Democrats for school closures during the coronavirus pandemic and has criticized Whitmer’s COVID-19 restrictions by saying America is not a “monarchy.”

This story contains additional reporting from theGRIO’s Associated Press.

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