Marching Around, or Whatever

Gordon Matthews

When Ypsilanti City Council member Anne Brown “answered” a Public Comment speaker at the January 5 Council meeting, she chidingly spoke about Freedom Tuesdayz activists “march[ing] around,” “beating the drum,” and “honking horns.” Even though in her extemporaneous comments she tried to show solidarity with pro-Black organizing, that part of her statement belied, perhaps, what she really thinks: that the work of grassroots activists is worth mocking, and maybe that unless they sit in a seat of authority like she does, they’re wasting their time, or going about things the wrong way.

Regarding Ms. Brown’s reference to honking horns: first off, activists aren’t doing the honking; motorists who pass by the biweekly demonstrations are doing the honking, smiling, and fist-raising—in great numbers. Secondly, now that we know Ms. Brown is hearing the honks, one would hope that she feels a sense of urgency. The sheer number of drivers bearing down on their horns makes it crystal clear that Ypsi has a problem with racism and racist policing; Ms. Brown herself seemed to suggest this.

Certain vocal, adamant protesters have done a lot more to raise awareness about Black Life in Ypsilanti than its City Council has. May that not always be the case.


  1. Pingback: Remarks to Council, Jan. 5, 2016 | Keep Ypsi Black
  2. Anne Brown

    I see you chose not to report on the fact I suggested to Mr. Simpson activists do not get tired as the struggle is 24/7, 365. Activist do not complain about their own concerns but it is the concerns of the collective. Let’s be open to change and not my way or no way. The group has much to offer but be problem solvers and not just seekers of solutions. The difference you ask, problem solvers change situations where seekers identify a problem and hope others do the heavy lifting.

  3. RAW

    Councilmember Anne Brown, welcome to RAW. Thank you for taking the time to express your views. You admonished activists to work 24/7/365 without complaining of a lack of responsiveness from city leadership. Now you are advising that we do more of the “heavy lifting,” both in identifying and solving problems.

    This after RAW analyzed publicly available data and published a 12-page report on the problem of arrests on failure to appear bench warrants—a topic that appeared on the agenda of your police/community relations task force. Our report included many suggestions for next steps to move as quickly as possible towards fully understanding the problems and identifying solutions. For example, cooperation from police agencies and courts would quickly advance our understanding of the policies and practices that have caused the problem so that we can solve it.

    Indeed, we have engaged, and will continue to engage, with identifying both problems and solutions. Our intention is not to give city leadership an excuse to minimize its own responsibilities. Let’s not forget the imbalance of power and material resources between a city government and a group of volunteer community activists. We will feel more confident that you take your responsibilities seriously when we see you respond with real urgency to the problems already brought to your attention, instead of schooling us in our responsibilities as activists. We look forward to continuing a dialogue with you about the serious concerns of the Ypsilanti community.


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