Rising non-violent gun arrests in Wayne Co. are hurting people of color, advocates say

DETROIT (WXYZ) – John Lloyd had just dropped his mother off at work one night in December 2020 when he noticed the flashing lights behind him.

While driving through Detroit’s new center on West Grand Boulevard, he was pulled over by police for a traffic violation.

“I let them know I was armed,” said Lloyd, who was working as an armed security guard at the time. “They checked the information and told me my (hidden pistol license) had expired.”

Lloyd had returned from Georgia to Michigan and his Concealed Pistol license, or CPL, had expired three months earlier. Like many, he said trying to renew his CPL through the Wayne County clerk had not been easy after the office was closed by the pandemic.

Lloyd was arrested and charged with Carrying a Concealed Weapon, or CCW. In Michigan, it’s a five-year felony.

“It’s like we’re being targeted as criminals,” Lloyd said, “and we’re not.”

Over the past two years, the number of people arrested for carrying concealed weapons in Detroit has skyrocketed. Before the pandemic, less than 400 arrests were made per quarter.

But by the summer of 2020, arrests had quadrupled. As of November, 1,055 CCW cases were pending in Wayne County Circuit Court.

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The number of CCW-only arrests in Detroit has skyrocketed since the start of the pandemic.

“Yes, get your guns off the streets,” criminal defense attorney Gabi Silver said. “But stop with this absurdity of ends justifying the means.”

Since the pandemic, Silver – who often defends those charged with gun crimes – says she has seen an explosion of CCW-related charges only inside the Wayne County circuit court.

Money is troubled by the steep increase, she says, as the vast majority of those charged are people of color.

“Why are you going to take someone who is really trying to obey the law,” said Silver, “who is otherwise a law-abiding citizen and criminalize that behavior for a mistake? “

Criminal defense attorneys say cases like Lloyd’s are common: citizens, usually African Americans, without a criminal record carrying legally owned guns, suddenly risk years in prison.

Michigan is an open port state, which means you can carry a legally owned and registered weapon as long as it is in sight.

But the law is often misunderstood, with some gun owners believing they can stow their guns in their belts or drive with them in the car.

James White was not Detroit Police Chief when John Lloyd was arrested, and says the surge in CCW arrests is not in response to a directive to his officers.

“There is no warrant, there is no pressure to take more guns off the streets,” White said. “But the push is to make our community safe.”

While cases like John Lloyd’s represent non-violent offenses, White pointed out that even law-abiding gun owners pose a risk when they carry a gun inappropriately, even if it is the law. their.

In Oxford, James and Jennifer Crumbley bought and legally owned their gun which their son allegedly used to kill four people and injure seven.

“I had sixty children shot dead in the city of Detroit (in 2021), eight under 17… killed,” White said. “So we have a lot of people who carry guns and we have a lot of people who make impulsive bad decisions while carrying guns. “

But not too long ago, the then police chief encouraged the people of Detroit to carry guns.

“Good Americans who are responsible for concealed weapons can make a difference,” Craig told CNN in a 2014 interview.. “I don’t care what city you talk about in America, (the police) can’t be everywhere.”

Neighborhood Defender Services supervising attorney Kristine Longstreet said some Detroit residents who followed the former chief’s advice now face up to five years of felony.

“You arrest our brothers, uncles, sisters, aunts for carrying a gun in a town where they have been told to be afraid, where they have been told to arm themselves,” Longstreet said.

A spokesperson for Neighborhood Defender Services said that 70% of their organization’s clients are legal gun owners with no criminal history.

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While the number of black customers they represent has increased by more than 300% since the pandemic, non-black customers have actually declined.

Wayne County District Attorney Kym Worthy said any racial disparity in the charges concerned her – and said she was not aware of those numbers until we shared them with her.

“It’s clearly a problem, and I don’t want to leave anyone with the impression that it’s not a problem,” she said in an interview in November.

Worthy said under former Chief James Craig the department was making arrests he shouldn’t have.

“Their mandate was, ‘Let’s go out and get as many arrests from the CCW as possible. In fact, let’s even ask all of Detroit to arm themselves, ”Worthy said, adding that she and former Chief Craig have often faced arrests with firearms.

“We have tried to try to advise against some of the arrests that have been made, and I can say that as soon as James White arrived …

In an emailed statement, former chief James Craig defended his record on the CCW arrests:

“Any inference that I or my office called on CCW officers to make illegal arrests is an outright lie. Whenever my team learned of an alleged illegal CCW arrest, I expected an internal investigation to be immediately launched by the Professional Standards Section. I actually walked out of the department and brought in a former US prosecutor to oversee our internal reviews. We have worked with the Worthy Prosecutor’s Office on arrest warrants to take dangerous criminals and their illegal weapons off the streets to improve security in some of Detroit’s more criminal areas. “

Worthy says his office has rejected warrants on more than 1,500 CCW arrests and referred more than 600 others to diversion programs, which allow those charged to avoid a criminal record.

She says her office no longer charges gun owners whose concealed pistol licenses have expired in the past year, but that doesn’t apply to those already charged like John Lloyd.

After losing his job as a security guard, he now details cars as a five-year-old crime hangs over his head.

“I pray that everything will work for me and for everyone who is going through this,” Lloyd said in November. “But that’s not fair.”

Following our interview with District Attorney Kym Worthy, Lloyd’s attorney told 7 Action News that his client was told he was eligible to participate in a diversion program.

Contact Investigator 7 Ross Jones at [email protected] or (248) 827-9466.

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