Thursday, July 30, 2015

Real Life Ann Arbor Area Police Stories

Real Life A2 Area Police Stories 

All occurred within the last 9 or so years.
Details not known beyond what’s here.
If we know of this many incidences, there are many more.

Ann Arbor Police

—A Phd student friend, African-American man, rides his bike around Ann Arbor regularly.  He said he’s been stopped by police on “numerous occasions,”
questioned, asked for ID, and finally let go with cops usually saying he “fit the description” of someone they were looking for. He believes he’s always allowed to ride on because he displays his most polite manners.

—A white man around 30, 6’8”, who does work as a handyman said that one night around 2am he was walking in a neighborhood when 2 or 3 AAPD officers attacked him for no reason and beat him up badly.  He didn’t want the stress of a lawsuit. The dept. ended up paying his hospital bills. Don’t know details beyond this. This is a guess: he was victimized because of his unusual height, i.e., he looks different.  

—This is an incident which we witnessed and participated in: As we drove east on Liberty there was an officer “talking to” an African-American man on the sidewalk in front of the post office.  It was a sunny, warm afternoon with a lot of people walking around.  It was clear that the African-American man was anxious and most likely being intimidated. His gestures indicated anxiety and fear.  The cop’s back was to us.  We parked and walked up fairly close.  The cop was asking questions like, “Where’s your girlfriend?”  “How long have you been downtown?”  The black man was familiar, possibly homeless, or poor. One of our party interrupted from behind and the officer turned, changed demeanor, and put on a smile instantly.  We said we'd wait to ask a question when he had a minute.  He immediately and very nicely told the man he could leave.  The man turned, displaying great relief, and walked quickly away.  We made up a question regarding our car.

—A white friend has a teenager in high school who got into some trouble. TEN AAPD officers showed up at her house to take the child’s computer. 2 cops stationed themselves at the 2 diningroom doors, blocking them.  The mom was told to stay in this room.  8 cops searched the entire house, taking a lot of stuff with them - mostly electronic equipment.  The trouble the child got in doesn’t warrant this kind of a police action. Months later, the items taken have still not been returned by the AAPD. (The mom is known to be critical of city hall.) 

—A story from a friend: “I called Ann Arbor police about a tow truck driver who was behaving in a very hazardous way; it ended in a manner that officers on duty totally supported the driver! Could not believe, both that evening and the next day when I called the police station to file a complaint. Got screamed at and threatened. It was then I learned that when it comes to complaints against the police - written complaints ONLY. Those they cannot throw in the trash.” 

—A friend reported that at least one restaurant in town allows AAPD police to eat and drink at no cost.  He thinks there are several.

—A former taxi driver, said he was repeatedly harassed by a female cop after he beat her traffic ticket in court. He went to the police station to complain repeatedly, and finally the sergeant spoke to the cop, who fully admitted to the harassment. But when the harassment continued and he went to complain again, there was no trace of his former complaints nor of the officer's admission.

—A friend’s son graduated from Community High. In his group of friend’s was an African-American boy who left Ann Arbor soon after high school because of police. Too much harassment by AAPD and he was a great kid (with dark skin...)

--On Thursday August 11, 2016 we were stopped on Dexter Rd. at a red light, Malleck’s gas station on the right. A small, beat up car with a young black female driver followed by an A2 Police SUV came from the opposite direction and turned onto Revena.  They immediately parked and so we decided to observe, turning and watching from car.  (should have gotten out and gotten close)  Just knowing what little we knew at this point gave us every reason to be suspicious.  It didn’t look like the white cop ticketed her, but he did at one point take some papers from her and went to his car for awhile.  When the incident was over, we waited a couple min. and drove away.  Amazingly, we found her on Arbana, parked and using her phone.  We talked with her, she was very nice, and we found out he had no right to stop her.  His stated reason was an out-of-date sticker on her license plate.  We checked it for her — it was white and said July ’17.  She said her birthday was in July. He knew that all white stickers were up to date.  He used this phony traffic stop to check out her car insurance which was also up to date.  Too bad for him, he had to let her go.  Just another police ‘fishing expedition.’

--In early August 2016, a white friend who’s a UoM professor of many years said when her son was in high school he was walking around downtown smoking a cigarette.  Two A2 cops walked up to him, asked him why he was smoking, and slammed him into a car.  This friend commented that when one is with a group of A2 parents and brings up a story like this is when it all comes out: many teenagers are mistreated by A2 cops.

4 AAPD incidents from the Black Student Speakout in the Union in Jan. 2015.  

--A student said she had worked as bartender at Dream Nightclub. There were themes on different nights: Hip-Hop, Latino, Jewish, Gay, etc.  The only time AAPD showed up were for Hip-Hop and Latino nights.  A lot of police cars parked on the street and officers got out and harassed people. The owner or mngr. would have to go out and politely ask police to allow people to enter the nightclub.

--A young man who said he worked at UoM said an AAPD officer knocked on his apt. door last week at 4am, waking him up. The cop said he had a few noise complaints and he was checking to see where the noise was coming from.  (The apartment was totally quiet.)  This white officer seemed very nervous. The man was questioned for 5 min., asked mundane questions like did he have people over, etc. During this uncomfortable interrogation, the noise from a party in a nearby apt. was obvious.

--A student said he was walking to a party and was yelled at by officers and interrogated for no reason.  They said he “fit the description of…”

--A student said she and some friends were walking to a party. Officers stopped she and her friends and brought a dog out of the car.  I couldn’t hear part of the story but the cops shut the party down at around 11pm. She said she hates walking around with a “target on her back.”  

Campus Police
(Same ‘cop culture’ as AAPD and the rest of the country.  Now UoM has Chief Seto who was the A2 chief for many years.)

—A black man we know was physically abused by cops on campus. Will get details.

—A doctor we know was administering medical assistance to a man in a public building when a 6’8” campus officer wrenched her arm back so hard that she’s had phys. therapy on and off ever since. He forced her to stand in a corner for a long time. 

—From Black Student Speakout: campus officers surrounded black fraternity members outside practicing for a show.  6 cars.  The cop said he knew they were practicing for the show. No brutality, but made them feel unwanted and watched.

—On Thursday May 26, 2016 we attended a fundraiser at Dominick’s restaurant in A2. Upon leaving, we saw a black woman from the event on the street in her car with a UM police SUV, lights flashing, behind her.  Her friend, observing from the sidewalk, said she was stopped for putting on her seatbelt while starting to leave her parking space. We leaned in the car and the woman said the first thing the white cop asked her was, “Is this your car?”  The friend recruited others (1 or 2 attorneys from the fundraiser) to also observe.  She was given a ticket.
Some weeks later she had to go to court and pay a stiff fine.  As a white person with an unfortunate speeding history, I can say that not one cop has ever asked me the question, “Is this your car.”

From a trusted friend, 30ish adjunct UoM prof.

-- A white woman concerned with her white boyfriend's mental stability called 911; Ann Arbor police came and were very forceful with him; they restrained him on the floor, his arms folded back, and he was forcefully removed from the house. There was no specialized psychological personnel in attendance. 

—Another white woman called Ann Arbor cops complaining of assault by an African-American man who was also living there. When cops showed up, the 2 housemates were calmly speaking in the living room. The police immediately cuffed the man; when the woman asked, “Why did you cuff him?", the cop who cuffed him said, “He looked dangerous." The man was taken outside to be questioned, still handcuffed, in front of all the neighbors.

-- An African-American Ann Arborite noticed an AAPD patrol car following her and her family day after day. She stopped to ask the officer why he was following her, and he answered that he was "trying to get to know who's living in the neighborhood." He also admitted to having received complaints and was disciplined in another jurisdiction for discrimination.

--An African-American woman, a student at UM, has a boyfriend who goes to Wayne. They were stopped for speeding when he was driving her back to Ann Arbor. They were made to leave the car and were searched, police (maybe A2 but not sure of jurisdiction) made comments about the boyfriend's tatoos, and told my friend something along the lines of "do you really want to lose your degree, hanging out with this Detroit guy?"

-- An older African American man told of his son who came to visit and was stopped by police (not sure of the jurisdiction) and searched on the way because he was speeding. As the son was leaving, the man advised his son to set his speed on cruise-control, so as not to go over the limit. On his way home, the son was stopped for being 5 miles below the speed limit. 


—An A2 woman helps black youth who get in trouble with the AAPD.  She states that young black people who get arrested with a minor infraction are sent by the judge downstairs to get a drug test.  If it is positive they automatically get 30 days in jail for which they are charged $99.00 a day. So, they end up owing the county $2970.00 when they get out and that does not help poor kids.
   Also, she is now trying to help one youth who is in jail to get his insulin shots as they do not give them to him. (White youth may also get this treatment.)

—An African-American single mom is a UoM prof. She’s been researching countries to find out where humane policing is in practice. She’s become very afraid for her young son’s future under our current police system and is willing/planning to give up her job to move to a country safer from police.

—Oregon story. Not related to A2 except that they share the same US ‘cop culture.’  Sandy who lives on the west coast attended a peaceful anti-war protest. Her boyfriend was beaten badly by cops and has been confined to a wheel chair since (3 years). The couple met with an attorney in hopes of filing suit against the cops. The attorney said he would no longer attempt to sue police for this reason - his words:  “it’s impossible to win since the American public now gives unlimited power to police because they think police work is extremely dangerous and difficult — when, in fact, for the majority of working hours, cops have nothing to do.”

Fleeting Observations

White male AAPD cop stopped black mother and child on 5th downtown near liberty.

A friend saw a white AAPD cop put a very young Af-Am boy in handcuffs at Arborland.  8/26/16

Ypsilanti In-the-Field

August 28

--White young man working in area:  "I was away for a few yrs. and when i returned I noticed there are a lot more cops in Ypsi.  I’m riding a bike, trying to get my license back."

--Af-Am man, maybe age 30, washing car at car wash.  YPD has been regularly stopping people at the Speedway intersection since the end of 2015, about every other day, weekends, too.  2-3 cars.  10-11am and other times. “There’s nothing we can do. They’re the cops.”

--House kitty-corner from Speedway - woman says heavy cop presence is due to extra lanes added for turning have caused many, many accidents.  A couple officers park off-road on Mich. Ave.