State Violence Doesn’t Solve Gun Violence.

Tristan Taylor, cofounder of Detroit Will Breathe


As Detroit experiences a rise in gun violence, a shallow conversation is taking place about what to do about it. The conversation is shallow because it fails to engage with two important factors: 1) the gun violence of police is not counted in these conversations, which has a great impact of the overall environment of violence; 2) the permeating effect poverty and racism have in shaping the everyday lives of Detroiters and their response to these effects, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.


So-called community leaders who have stopped serving the interests of the community of Detroit a long time ago have offered empty phrases for calm and peace; of course these same voices fail to call for calm and peace from police officers, who shoot suspects of crime with impunity. These so-called community leaders fail time and again to address the conditions people find themselves in that make “peace” so hard to attain. They fail to recognize the institutional violence that makes it impossible for working-class and poor people to know peace. We have faced the violence of displacement, including the dismantling of public schools and other social institutions like rec centers and adequate jobs that pay a livable wage. We live in a city where 1 out of 5 renters face eviction every year, where thousands of Detroiters lack access to water in their homes, and where the medium income is less than $27,000. Yet, people still dare to ask the question of why we experience violence between Detroiters?

Who is supposed to be Detroiters’ role model for handling conflict? The police? Who is supposed to help them deal with the harsh reality so many live in? The politicians? The movement in defense of Black lives and against systematic inequality was birthed out of the vacuum left by these so-called leaders who failed and are failing to address the real issues that prevent peace in our communities.


Our young people have so little, and in a City experiencing increasing stratification and rising inequality aided by City officials it is no wonder why we find ourselves unequipped to deal with the problem we face. Our only choice is to fight against the oppression and inequality that creates the unbearable conditions that produce daily violence and conflict for our community. Detroit Will Breathe fights for exactly that, for Detroiters to breathe free from racist police violence, displacement, and exploitation. Join us in making that struggle and building the type of leadership our community so desperately needs.