Today a banner was hung at EMU in response to the despicable graffiti found on campus Tuesday morning and as an act of solidarity with black students at EMU and the Black Lives Matter movement. It is not PoC who should be made to feel unsafe in Ypsilanti but the white supremacist, kkk members and sympathizers responsible for the graffiti and their friends who believe their desire to move through a particular intersection at a given time takes (violent) precedence over the collective need to gather in response to a racialized threat. If Eastern Michigan University and the city of Ypsilanti have fostered an environment where anyone feels safe writing racial slurs on walls, then we have failed as a community. Right now one message rings loud and clear: that black lives are less important than white lives, less important than a drive home from work to White Safety. But other voices also ring: voices that say black lives matter, that say #keepypsiblack, and we all need to add our voices, too. If any message should resound in our streets, should drip from the walls of the University, or blow in the breeze by the student center, it is this: that white supremacy has no place in our city and those that seek to uphold it should feel afraid.
On the night of Nov. 9–10, 2014, Aura Rosser was killed in her home by an officer of the Ann Arbor Police Department. Responding to a domestic call, Officer Mark Raab tased Aura, while Officer David Ried simultaneously shot Aura in the heart.
In June of this year, AAPD’s Chief Baird wrote in a memo:
The incredibly tragic incident was justified by any legal, policy or reasonable moral standards. The actions of the responding officers did have a tragic outcome but likely saved the life of the victim in the original domestic violence felonious assault incident that was ongoing when the officers arrived. It was tragic for Ms. Rosser, the officer involved, as well as all who care about either of them. It was tragic for the community as a whole. However, it was a completely justified and reasonable response to the situation the officers encountered that day.
What was “the situation the officers encountered that day”? While neither of the officers were interviewed that night—nor any time since—all residents and guests of the house were taken to the police station for questioning. Some of the interviews (in video, audio, or both) were released on the prosecutor’s website. The interviews with Victor Stephens and Gregory Fairley—the two eyewitnesses to the incident, apart from the officers—reveal repeatedly that Aura was not an immediate threat to Stephens, nor to the officers, and that she was given no time to comply with orders.
Washtenaw County Prosecutor Brian Mackie will face a challenge at the ballots this November from a grassroots activist who aims to bring police accountability and voter engagement to the forefront of county politics.
Mackie’s challenger is D’Real Graham, program coordinator for 826michigan—a volunteer educational organization. Graham said he wants the role of county prosecutor to be more visible to the public so voters will make informed decisions and not blindly vote along party lines.
“When you think about corrections and who is making decisions, when you identify leadership, the county prosecutor is high on the list,” Graham said. “If we are hoping to have local officials ready to amplify our values we have to know them, we have to talk to them, we have to challenge them.”
A teacher professionally, Graham hopes to increase civic engagement at the local level and greater transparency overall.
“If we don’t understand how the current system operates, we won’t understand how we are losing a workforce every 10 years,” Graham said. “We have more people entering the county jail than we have graduating from Eastern Michigan University. That should register as a problem for … anyone in this community.”
Mackie could not be reached for comment …
Read the rest here.
What do you do when a city report confirms what everyone already knew, that your neighborhood sits next to Ypsilanti’s former city dump? What are your options when a study of soil samples of the dump site finds lead, cadmium, chromium, zinc, barium, naphthalene, and methane gas? The residents of the Clarkesville neighborhood, southeast of South Huron and Spring, along Kramer and Bell Streets, are sandwiched in between the I-94, the Huron Street interchange, three gas stations, vacant industrial property, and the old dump. As far back as 1998, the city proposed rezoning the area as “mixed industrial/commercial.” In 2013, at the same time property owners were being notified about the soil toxicity due to the gas stations and dump, the city adopted an updated Master Plan, known as Shape Ypsi. There are echoes of the 1960s battle over urban renewal in the adjacent Parkridge neighborhood, which also bordered the dump and the highway, in the information packet available at the September 6, 2016 City Council meeting: the 2013 Shape Ypsi plan noted the number of neighborhood foreclosures, as well as the dump, highway, and high volume of traffic to support rezoning the neighborhood from R2 residential to production, manufacturing, and distribution (PMD). This meant that the homes in a previously residential district were now “non-conforming,” which limited homeowners’ options. While they are allowed to stay in their homes and sell them as residences, they cannot rebuild or remodel them beyond a certain dollar amount based on the homes’ value. That’s a problem if, say, your house catches on fire.
The movement around Black Lives Matter in Minneapolis is changing shape and picking up pace. In recent years Minnesotans have seen movements around anti-war, welfare reform, the rights of Indigenous peoples, students, Muslims, LGBT people—and of course the anti-police brutality and Black Lives Matter protests starting in 2015. With the officer-involved shootings of Jamar Clark and Philando Castile among a host of others, people are taking to the streets and organizing.
Beginning at 1 p.m. today on North Washington Street, between Pearl and Michigan Ave., T.R.I.B.E. presents the performance and music festival No More Parties in Ann Arbor. Set lists: