Chris Gelardi – October 29, 2020
Under the banner of Detroit Will Breathe, the city’s Black Lives Matter activists have formed a cohesive and lasting local political force.
As perhaps the highest-stakes election in a generation approaches, the widespread protests against racism and policing that defined much of the news cycle this summer have largely faded from national headlines. But the movement has not dissipated.
In Detroit, activists have created one of the most cohesive local movements in the country. Their work shows how the ongoing mobilization can change the landscape of local political organizing, particularly when it comes to the issue of policing.
Since late May, under the banner of Detroit Will Breathe, activists have been identifying pressing local racial, economic, and social justice issues, and mobilizing a diverse array of educational, direct action, and advocacy campaigns. They’ve canvassed for police reforms, organized campaigns to pressure the city council on policy, mobilized in support of neighbors who have experienced racism and police violence, and even sued the Detroit Police Department.
Detroit Will Breathe has taken advantage of the current momentum to rally against what its members see as an abusive police force and a malevolent political establishment, and placed itself at the center of local civic life.
“We’ve already created so much change,” said Sammie Lewis, a Detroit Will Breathe organizer. “We’ve protected each other more than the police could ever protect us. And we know that, because of that, we need to keep up this fight…”