Control your local police


Fifth Estate # 66, November 14-27, 1968

The Detroit Police are out of control. They have completely slipped out from under the authority of the Mayor and his Police Commissioner and now comprise a vigilante force dedicated to maintenance of the status quo.

They have resorted to criminal methods and produced a string of murders, mass assaults, and severe injuries to citizens engaged in lawful conduct. Their connection with the Mafia and right-wing groups is well known and documented.

If the Detroit Police continue along their present path of brutality, citizens will have no other choice but to defend themselves. If the Detroit Police continue to function as an occupying army the people will respond to them as such. In other words, the choice of whether or not there is peace on the streets of Detroit depends not upon black people, demonstrators, and the hip community, but upon Mayor Cavanagh and Commissioner Johannes Spreen.

As beginning steps we ask that the following be done:

1. The suspension and criminal prosecution of the officers involved in the Wallace demonstration atrocities and the Veterans’ Memorial Building beatings.

2. Break up the Detroit Police Officers Association (DPOA). This police lobby is the backbone of support for the racism and brutality of the police force. It carries more authority among individual officers than does the Commissioner. It has even provided legal fees for the pigs that executed three black youths at the Algiers Motel during the July 1967 Rebellion.

3. Transfer District Inspector Anthony Bertoni from the demonstration detail to something less sensitive like traffic. It is obvious that he either cannot or will not control his men.

4. Abolition of the precinct cruiser crew. Known as the Big Four in the black community and as the Pig Four in the Warren-Forest area, this unit of four men in a car is known for its brutality, abuse and discrimination.

5. Abolition of the Tactical Mobile Unit. This elite squad has acquired a reputation similar to that of the Big Four especially in crowd and demonstration situations. This unit serves no function unless police policy is based on that of terrorizing the population.

6. Completely revamp the department so that officers are elected from the community in which they live and serve and are answerable to a citizens’ control board.