Friday, June 18, 2021

Ann Arbor Police Stories -- In-the-field collection includes Ypsilanti

Updated as new stories are reported - mostly in order of recent incidents first

Most occurred within the last 15 years. Details not known beyond what’s hereIf several of us know of this many incidences, there must be many more.  We have come to the conclusion that either cops have a mandate to arrest black people (ultimately for prison work?) or that many cops for whatever reason are racist since the majority of these examples of police abuse are against Black people.

We are certain that if all of these stories were about cops treatment of white people, our officials would immediately take action. 

Ann Arbor Police

--A tall, handsome Black high school student in Ann Arbor was stalked, intimidated, and threatened so many times over a period of several years (recent), that his entire family was forced to sell their house and leave Ann Arbor.  A2 cops knew his car, and he was constantly pulled over and harrassed.  They constantly tried to pin him with drug-selling. Other details will be left out here to protect the innocent. 

--Forty years ago a man (white) living in Ann Arbor built his daughter a go-cart to ride around the neighborhood.  One of his neighbors called the AAPD, who responded by impounding the go-cart, placing the young daughter in the squad car, and bringing her home all shook up and crying.  Her father became enraged at this and lambasted the idiot policemen who then arrested him.  He served a year of probation. When he lambasted them, they placed their hands on their pistols, which enraged him even further.


--Roughly 20 years ago a Black friend, Steve (not his real name), was driving on Industrial Ave. in A2. AAPD pulled him over for no reason and asked what he was doing in Ann Arbor. (Steve lives here and grew up here) The reason police gave for stopping him was that he had not turned on his headlights. (it was daylight) They asked to search his car and he agreed.  Steve and his friend (the only passenger) had to get out of the car. They CUFFED Steve and sat him on the curb, turning him around so he couldn’t see his car. He turned back around and watched, even though he was told not to. They searched his friend who resisted so they TAZED him. He fell. They cuffed him and sat him on the curb away from Steve.

   Then 7 other police cars showed up. They leave their cars and talk in groups. Steve and his friend were put into to separate cars and taken to holding rooms in the police station. 

   Steve asked when he’d be able to leave and was told, “When you explain why you have so much money in your wallet.” Police had noticed it when he got out his license back after being stopped. (He had cashed his paycheck, and also collected rent from a tenant he had.)

   They didn’t let him go until 2am and he had a long walk to his car. His friend was in jail for 2-3 days.

—A Phd student friend, African-American man, rides his bike around Ann Arbor regularly.  He told me 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 rents an apt. in a friend’s house, 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 but the dept. paid 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 I witnessed and participated in: As I drove east on Liberty I saw 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 to me from my car that the African-American man was anxious and most likely being intimidated. His gestures indicated anxiety and fear.  The cop’s back was to me.  I parked and walked up fairly close.  The cop was asking questions like, “Where’s your girlfriend?”  “How long have you been downtown?”  I’ve seen this black man around town before and think he may be homeless, or poor. I interrupted from behind and the officer turned, changed demeanor, and put on a smile instantly when he saw me.  I said I would 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 relief, and walked quickly away.  I made up a question to ask regarding my car.

—A white friend of mine has a teenager in high school who got into some trouble. TEN AAPD officers showed up at my friend's house to take the child’s computer. 2 cops stationed themselves at the 2 diningroom doors, blocking them.  My friend 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. (My friend 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 good friend reported to me that at least one restaurant in town allows AAPD police to eat and drink at no cost.  He thinks there are several others.

—A former taxi driver, told me that he was repeatedly harassed by a female AAPD 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 (white) good 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 pigment.)

——On August 11, 2016 I was stopped on Dexter Rd. at a red light, Malleck’s gas station on my right.  A small car with a very young African-American female driver followed by an A2 Police SUV with lights flashing came from the opposite direction on Huron and both turned onto Revena.  They immediately parked so I decided to turn onto Revena and observe. (should have gotten out and gotten close)  Just knowing what little I knew at this point gave me 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, I was afraid to follow her right away - I waited a couple minutes and drove away.  Amazingly, I found her on Arbana, parked and using her phone.  I got out and talked with her, she was very nice, and I found out he had no right to stop her.  His stated reason was an out-of-date sticker on her license plate.  I told her I’d check it for her — it was white and said July ’17.  She said her birthday was in July.  He could easily see from a distance that her sticker was the right color and there was no reason to stop her to begin with!  He used this phony traffic stop to check out her car insurance — which was also up to date.  He had to let her go. Just another police ‘fishing expedition.’ 

—In August 2016, a white friend who’s a UoM professor of many years told me that 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.

—Several friends were in an A2 park where the deer cull was scheduled to occur on a winter night in 2015-16.  Their purpose was to warn walkers away from the park since shooters were present.  An officer said they were to “move along.”  They insisted that being there was legal.  The officer then drove to an area a distance away and spent ——
minutes flashing lights in their eyes.

—On Nov. 8, 2016 a young African-American woman was walking downtown A2, doing errands for her job. An A2 white police officer driving by looks at her suspiciously. Down the street a bit, the same officer approaches her on foot to see if he can ask her a few questions. He wore a grim smirk and his demeanor was goofy like the whole situation was a laughing matter. The young woman was very aware that the minor stop could turn into a big altercation which could lead to her death. He stated that there had been a robbery at Sweetwaters and she “fit the description” of the robber. She stated that she had not gone to the coffee shop that day. He asks her something else and she again states not having gone there; he finally says thank you and they both walk away.

—One of the scariest incidents ever in my life:  I had a bike accident at the corner of Packard & Platt.  I called both the AA cops and the sheriff but they couldn’t decide whose jurisdiction it was and neither showed up.  It was at night, I was bleeding, and my bike was unridable.  I had to make emergency repairs and hobble home by myself.  It was like something out of Road Warrior.

—High School boys driving on Packard were stopped and released by A2 police.  Before being permitted to go, their money was confiscated by the police.

—A Black middle aged man told several stories about A2 cops stopping him for no reason, applying some form of physical abuse, even taking him to the station for nothing.

—A2 cops showed up at a high school party following a noise complaint.  Slammed a student into a wall, breaking plaster.

—A white Viet Nam vet not getting his benefits at the A2 VA, caused a stir, and was beaten up by cops (who were called) in the VA parking lot.

—A white woman caught a man (happened to be black) cutting the screen to break into her A2 house (while inside).  When the police came and saw she had a bi-racial child, they suddenly changed their demeanor of being helpful and said, “You know this guy, don’t you?” and left without helping at all.  (she has other stories…)

—Manager of a condo complex tells story of how uncooperative A2 cops were with ongoing visitations by homeless people.  He said everytime he made contact with them it was a disappointment.

--Two stories told by a white A2 resident about a black friend:  
1.  A black friend of mine, who works nights in A2, but lives in another town was harassed by a truck on the highway.  Person in truck shot a bullet through his rear windshield, he called 9-1-1 and Michigan State Police met him off the highway, agreed it was a bullet, found fragments in his car, and CLOSED the case.
2.  A few months later the same man was walking at night in downtown A2 when 2 white A2 cops slammed him against a wall, cuffed him, took him to the station, and booked him.  His charge was 'blocking a sidewalk.' They followed him for two blocks stating that he fit the description. His coworkers came outside to vouch for his innocence to no avail.

-- In my white friend's home, a woman concerned with her white boyfriend's mental stability called 911; Ann Arbor police came and were physically abusive 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. 

—In another white friend's home, a white woman called AAPD complaining of assault by an African-American man who was also living there. When cops showed up, the man and my friend were calmly speaking in the living room. The police immediately cuffed the man; when my friend 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. 

--Sometime in 2019 a co-owner of Zingerman's spoke at city council saying now and then his Black employees arrive late for work because of "driving while black" (racial profiling).
"All is not perfect in Ann Arbor," he stated.

--In 2020, a young homeless man spoke at city council stating that in his visits to the Delonis Center shelter, he has learned from multiple homeless people that they are being targeted by AAPD.

State Troopers

Incident occurred on Michigan Ave., Canton, 2003. African-American male going 8-10 miles over speed limit.  Trooper pulls him over making the man turn over his registration, license, and insurance.  
Trooper:  Where areyou coming from?  (Man becomes fearful)  Where do you live?  
Do you have any drugs in car?  
Man:  No.
Trooper:  Are you sure?
Man:  Yes
Trooper:  Can I search your car really fast?
Man:  Yes
Trooper gets dog out!  Dog sniffing everywhere.
Trooper:  What's in the briefcase.  Man opened and showed him.
Dog still smelling - found nothing.
The trooper behaved in an unfriendly, condescending, suspicious, and racist manner.
A second trooper who was on the scene was friendly - the man believes it was because he knew the other trooper was out of line.
The man was in trauma for 2 weeks afterwards. He still asks, Why the dog?

4 AAPD incidents from the Black Student Speakout in the UoM 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.”  

UMich. 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.)

--Story of U. of Mich. student jailed for 3 months for the crime of forgetting his campus gym day pass.  Reported in a twitter feed:
Justin [Gordon] worked on my staff for two years as a student and was exemplary. When I tried to hire him to teach a class after graduation, the hire got blocked because of his criminal record — apparently he can’t work at UM as a non-student for ~10 years. What kind of justice is that?
Three months in jail, a threat of expulsion that after great struggle became a semester suspension, a ban from university housing, and a multi-year block on being hired at UM after graduation.
All triggered by going to a campus gym as a student without a day pass.
   This same student MC’d the university‘s DEI event with Jesse Jackson and President Schlissel, co-founded a group that was featured as the opener for Angela Davis for the university’s MLK Symposium, and was promoted by the U in multiple other ways to advance DEI messaging. 
  He worked for optiMize as a student, but when I tried to hire him to teach a class after he graduated, the hire got blocked. I was told the U's policy won't allow us to hire anyone for some time after they've been convicted a felony — I believe it's 10 years.
  Even though he had already worked for years as a UM student employee!
I’ve since learned I was one of five people who were prevented from offering him post-graduation employment. What kind of justice is this? Why were armed officers even called on him in the first place?
  And why did we punish him so harshly even after his already-unjust jail time?
This absurd tragedy is why the demands to defund and reform campus policing, surveillance, and criminalization must be taken seriously.
  UM is a great institution in many ways. But if we want our future to be bright, we must be willing to speak openly about ways in which the university needs to change to align with our ideals. I strongly believe this is one of them. 
One minute youtube where Justin Gordon speaks about his experience with UoM police:

—A black man I know was physically abused by cops on campus. Don't have details.

—A doctor I know was administering medical assistance to a man at a protest when a 6’8” campus officer [West] 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.  A cop said he knew they were practicing for the show. No brutality, but made them feel unwanted and watched.

—On Thursday May 26, 2016 I attended a fundraiser at Dominick’s restaurant in A2.
Upon leaving, I noticed a black woman I’d met at the event on the street in her car with a UM police SUV, lights flashing, behind her.  Her friend, observing from the sidewalk, told me she was stopped for putting on her seatbelt while starting to leave her parking space. I leaned in the car and the woman told me that 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.  I was told some weeks later that she had to go to court and paid 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.”


—A woman I know is helping 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 I know 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 safer country.  (This concurs with the fact that American police culture is the same everywhere, and that we in A2 don't have an especially kind, non-racist, and service-oriented A2 force.  The use of the word "force" says so much.)

—Oregon story. Not related to A2 except that they share the same US ‘cop culture.’  A good friend 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 in auto 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


—An African-American college student walking to catch a bus was stopped by an officer driving. He was asked why he wears a backpack and what’s in it. 

—August 2016. House kitty-corner from Speedway gas station - woman says heavy cop presence is due to extra lanes added for turning have caused many accidents.  A couple officers are parked off-road on Mich. Ave.

—White man working in Speedway 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 now, trying to get my license back.”

—Af-Am man, maybe age 30, washing his 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.”

—A white friend was getting gas at the above named intersection in the summer of 2016. He sees and hears a white man across the intersection out on the street yelling at multiple cops making stops, “You cannot randomly stop cars! It’s unconstitutional!”  etc.  When my white friend was driving away from gas station, THREE county sheriff vehicles pulled up and surrounded this man.

—Dec. 2016.  At 12:05am two Af.-Amer. men walked east through the Normal Park neighborhood. After a few minutes of walking, lights flash behind them and a white YPD officer states for them to turn around, stand away from each other, raise hands in air, then place them behind their heads.
   A 2nd white YPD then arrives and mentions something about a stolen car.  Both men are frisked by the cops.  A third squad car pulled up to see if the YPD needed additional back up. Squad cars drive away.

There are many, many more incidents -- we wish we could report all of them.