Statement to Ann Arbor City Council 12/1

Catherine Wilkerson

There is a powerful movement growing in this country against police violence and in particular against lethal police violence so disproportionately perpetrated on African Americans. This movement has come to Ann Arbor, where an estimated 1000 people took over the streets the night after prosecutor McCulloch announced that Ferguson Police Officer Wilson would not be indicted. Councilman Warpehoski sent me an email encouraging my participation in that action.

Lethal police violence perpetrated on African Americans also has come to Ann Arbor. On the night of November 9 an Ann Arbor cop shot to death Aura Rosser. Her killing was a central issue to those in the streets 6 nights ago, and also to people all over this country.

Now, 22 days after its awful occurrence, the continuing secrecy surrounding this homicide is an affront to the people and to principles of democracy and justice.

Ferguson identified the cop that killed Michael Brown 6 days later. New York identified the cop that killed Akai Gurley within hours, as did Cleveland in the killings of Tamir Rice and Tanisha Anderson. But 22 days after an Ann Arbor cop killed Aura Rosser, the police are keeping his identity secret.

The standard excuse for concealing the identities of cops that kill citizens is for the safety of the cops. Michigan’s Freedom of Information law allows that, but only when “supported by substantial justification and explanation, not merely by conclusory assertions.”

What substantial justification and explanation exist to maintain the secrecy of the officers involved in the killing of Aura Rosser? Is this what Chief Seto means when he touts the importance of community trust of the police?

Are we to take from this secrecy that the killing of Rosser is an even more egregious police homicide than those of Brown, Rice and Anderson? So egregious that the Ann Arbor cop is in imminent danger once his identity is known? Are we to conclude that the AAPD, the city of Ann Arbor and the Michigan State Police consider that this alleged imminent danger outweighs the public interest in the conduct of those whom we citizens pay to serve and protect the people?





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