Detained in Ypsilanti: Emancipated on Juneteenth

Anthony Morgan

Below is a compilation of notes that I revisited after being detained by the Ypsilanti Police Department on Thursday June 18th at 9:34 p.m. and emancipated on June 19th at 5:57 a.m. without being charged, processed. I was arrested but not informed of my rights. I was detained and isolated without communication. I was placed in uncomfortable conditions and strategically engaged by officers in the department. I was not brutalized, I was victimized. I was not arrested, I was “snatched” and detained. The detainment came shortly after a vigil was held in downtown Ypsilanti as a show of solidarity with the families of the 9 church members slain by a white supremacist in South Carolina just 3 days ago. Many people of all nationalities were in support in peaceful protest. The crowd was informed about being in the street due to how many people there were in attendance. I was engaged by officers who asked for information. I gave them selective information and was immediately detained. I was raced from the scene of passionate supporters to the bowels of the Department because I “appeared to be the figure-head.” I was instantly relieved of my belongings and ushered into confinement. How absolutely fitting is the release from captivity on the Day of June 19th—”Juneteenth”—(the documented date in 1865 in Galveston, Texas) which is perceived as the actual emancipation of blacks and people of color who were being held captive within the United States, though not actually upheld til nearly 100 years later.

So in the spirit of those who have fought, died, resisted, and created pathways for my freedom, thus my reflection begins in honor of this momentous Day in the Historical Present.

Detainment vs. Arrest: I was not read my Miranda Rights at any point within the 8.2 hours in their custody. I was told, though, throughout the night by several officers that I was charged with interfering with police, disturbing the peace, and obstructing justice. I was never booked, or transferred to the County Jail or formally charged with any crime although rumors lingered. I was singled out of a crowd of over 70 passionate protesters by 2 different law enforcement agencies, out of a total of 3 that were present at the protest and vigil. I was not given a phone call (until I pressed the issue several times … and the officer made it seem like he was doing me a favor). I asked could I call my lawyer and the response was “you are not being interrogated.” To be held without knowledge of crime, for an indeterminate amount of time—within the clutches of a systematic tool that uses law to abuse coupled with inept subjectivity of protocol—is a scary thing.

The psychological mind game: I was approached and spoken to by 4 different officers during the detainment in hopes (on their part) to gather information about the social unrest in Ypsilanti and across the nation and world. They could not seem to grasp the perspective or plight of the oppressed from their own privileged, powerful point of views. Attempts to appeal to how they see it were made.

The critical conditions: I was not given food or water until after 6 hours of detainment. The temperature was uncomfortably cold, extremely uncouth, and I was cut off from communicating with the outside world, similar to the conditions of Guantanamo Bay, right here in our very own Washtenaw County, Ypsilanti City, USA.

The lack of protocol: The officers didn’t appear to have clear protocol to what to do after they detained me. The police gave conflicting and non-credible answers to myself within the cell and to my comrades outside the walls who were looking to get a better grasp on my wellbeing.

The improper perspective: The police were attempting to get me to see how difficult their jobs are and how credible the agencies are while I remained true to the purpose of aiding and supporting those who feel they have the right to speak out.

The gap between law enforcement and activists:  there remains a clear and defined line that divides law enforcement from activists and it simply is this: the underlying and apparent focuses that we have are fundamentally in opposition to one another. I believe that ultimately, the goals of activists and organizers are to connect, inform, serve, and deface the facade of law enforcement agencies and other governing bodies or corporations who feel they are above citizens; consequently, the ideology of the police is to disrupt crowds and to mislead and to reinforce the idea that law enforcement is much more powerful than the citizenry, that governing bodies have empowered them to be so, at the will of wealthy corporations.

The will of the people: This IS the beginning and final frontier of the movement. Every time THE PEOPLE move to action in spirited, purposeful ways, there is generated an energy of solidarity, mission, and a unified push-back against the iron fist of oppression.

The goal is to disperse the crowd
the goal is to mourn inwardly
the goal is to silence the voice
the goal is to stop the protest
the goal is to detain the mission
the goal is to distract from the cause
the goal is to strike fear in our souls
the goal is to scatter our unification
the goal is to weaken our resolve
the goal is to extinguish our flame
the goal is to downplay our emotion
the goal is to avoid our liberty
the goal is to undermine our justice
the goal is to confuse our purpose

The goal is to remain vigilant
the goal is to remain expressive
the goal is to endure and resist
the goal is to fight the power


  1. Peter linebaugh

    From Scotland en route to Wales I convey outrage at this violation of Anthony Morgan’s freedom and body in direct violation of the Magna Carta, “that no freeman be imprisoned without due process of law or trial by his equals.” I demand justice and reparation for this crime of temporary kidnapping. Do the police and the authorities think we are slaves?

  2. alan haber

    from France. Selective persecution and effort to intimidate, the cost of having a clear voice and consistent presence. Arbitrary power has become the name of the police. As i remember the street chant, “the whole damn system is guilty as hell.” An effort to mourn isn’t even allowed. Organize is the alternative. Solidarity forever!

  3. Pingback: Ypsilanti City: No Resist Zone | Radical Washtenaw
  4. Nick

    Yet six years later, City Council Member Anthony Morgan voted to *increase* police presence in Ypsilanti by hiring additional officers, perpetuating this injustice and violent oppression.

    What happened? Did you forget? Are you so comfortable now? You told us to keep fighting, but you abandoned the cause, betrayed your community, and now—from your position of power—smirk at the very words you put in our minds.


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