The organizer at the center of Detroit's demonstrations against police brutality has been released from an overnight stay in jail following a peaceful Tuesday protest that was broken up because it violated curfew.
Tristan Taylor, 37, is facing "a misdemeanor, resisting and not following orders or disturbing the peace," Detroit Police Chief James Craig said at a Wednesday news conference. He has been released pending charges.
Taylor was initially arrested under suspicion of inciting a riot, Craig said, but indicated that the peaceful nature of Tuesday's demonstration did not support that charge.
"Was there anybody that was significantly injured based on his role? Was there significant property damage? No there was not," Craig said. "He was arrested for that but we get to make adjustments based on facts."
Taylor led a group on a miles-long march down Gratiot Avenue Tuesday in defiance of what he's called an "unjust" 8 p.m. curfew instituted after largely peaceful weekend protests erupted in violence each night.
Police in riot gear closed in on either side of the group of more than 100 demonstrators just before 9 p.m. Tuesday, arresting some without incident and forcibly taking down and pepper-spraying others as they appeared to resist. Craig blamed the pepper-spray incident on protesters having "grabbed" an officer during the chaotic moments in which arrests were being made.
Almost all of the approximately 400 demonstrators arrested across five days have faced misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct or violating curfew.
Taylor is the only demonstrator known to have been held over night. Police said at least 120 others were arrested for violating curfew Tuesday; all were quickly released except him. Craig said police eventually determined Taylor only violated curfew and failed to follow a police order.
It's unclear why police initially felt Taylor's behavior merited a possible felony charge and why it took more than 12 hours for him to be released. His release came after supporters mounted a social media campaign Wednesday, urging people to flood city officials' phones lines.
The prominent Detroit activist is affiliated with groups that focus on equity in housing and development. He’s also a barista at Avalon Bakery, in Midtown.
Rather than deterring further street actions, the arrest appears to have elevated Taylor's profile. He became a trending topic locally on Twitter Wednesday, and was back on the microphone at the start of a sixth night of protests outside Detroit police headquarters just hours after release.