Justice for Aura Rosser, Killed by Police

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Correspondent: Jarah Maan – Ann Arbor, Michigan – November 9th, 2015

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Local #AnnArborToFerguson, #BlackLivesMatter, and #DetroitLightBrigade activist groups gathered outside the Ann Arbor City Hall meeting on Thursday, November 5th, 2015 to continue to seek justice just ahead of today’s one-year anniversary of the death of Aura Rosser.

Ms. Rosser was a mother who was brutally killed in her own home just before midnight on November 9th, 2014, by Ann Arbor Police Officer, David Reid, as 2 officers responded to a 911 call from her home at 2083 Winewood Ave. Instead of providing assistance, one officer tased Ms. Rosser, as Reid shot the woman dead. Rosser was holding a knife and had a history of mental illness according to police reports.

The Detroit Light Brigade stood facing oncoming traffic with signs reading, “Fire Reid” and “♡Aura” when the main Detroit Light Brigade organizer, known as Byrdanon Byrdman, had just went through a trial run of the ‘bat light’. An officer came out and demanded he put the light projector away, citing a city ordinance against projection. According to the officer, the original ordinance was created due to a Coors Beer projection that disturbed local residents years ago, but the argument was made that this is not an advertisement, but free speech. Various degreed men in suits and others in blue uniforms delivered messages trying to dissuade the Brigade until it was finally determined with the assistance of the National Lawyers Guild legal observers the Brigade had the right to project their messages per city attorney, Steven Postema.

Indict the System projected directly onto the Ann Arbor Justice Center

Indict the System projected directly onto the Ann Arbor Justice Center

On this day the city organized a “Meet the Candidates for the Ann Arbor Police Chief Position” as part of their City Council meeting. As the council members, officers, and citizens filed in, they encountered dozens of protesters who lined the walls with signs demanding justice for Aura Rosser.

Above: #SayHerName and #DetroitToFerguson Activists hold signs during the City Hall meeting

Above: #SayHerName and #DetroitToFerguson Activists hold signs during the City Hall meeting

The City Council heard a litany of varied concerns with interposed public comments regarding the killing of Aura Rosser. One organizer, Shirley Beckley, stood at the podium challenging the Council, “…if you aren’t going to fire Officer Reid, than at least let’s string him up…” As the room applauded and snapped fingers in support of the statement, Council Member Sumi Kailasapathy (D) replied; there was an investigation by the Ann Arbor Human Rights Commission that led to the resolution of a Civilian Police Oversight Board that was spurred on a year ago after the killing of Aura Rosser. Kailasapathy stated hundreds of hours were spent interviewing people and studying more than 120 police review board models that eventuated into a 42-page report available on the Ann Arbor Human Rights Commission website. Kailasapathy went on to say, “…the police cannot police themselves, we need community oversight…the police refused to give the Human Rights Commission a blank form. It’s the ‘Use of Force’ form; they even refused to provide the blank form! Not information. Just the BLANK FORM…”
The ‘Police Oversight Resolution’ document.

Council Member Chuck Warpehoski (D) excused Officer Reid’s actions, describing the shooting as; “…legal and appropriate” and went on to describe Reid as an Officer who historically demonstrated restraint where it would have been, “…legal under state law and appropriate under the training he has received…” in similar situations to use his firearm where he avoided pulling the trigger. Warpehoski followed the pro-Reid stance with the following; “There is also the interpretation that we see nationally in social science research that even people with the best intentions can still exhibit bias in their behaviors even if they are explicitly committed to equity. We see national data that shows significant racial disparities in police and law enforcement activities from all or in part of the criminal legal system. In that context there is the question would that officer have made the same decision in a different setting with a person of a different race?” Warpehoski ended with reviewing opportunities in oversight processes, added other needs such as mental health response training as well as greater diversity training, and proposed looking at the national conversations and models emerging around #BlackLivesMatter and biased-based policing, with the final comment, “But I’ll tell you what, I am not going to string up one of our officers.”

On the anniversary of Aura Rosser’s murder, there will be a Human Rights Commission Meeting open to public comments November 9th, 2015, at 6pm at City Hall, after which a final resolution will be presented to city council with an ordinance change.

There is an Ann Arbor to Ferguson Event RALLY AND MARCH ENDING IN A VIGIL AT LIBERTY PLAZA to correspond with this date, also commencing at City Hall at 301 E. Huron St., Fifth Avenue, Ann Arbor.

About Author

Jarah Maan is an independent journalist with a focus on local and international social justice and human rights issues. You may contact Jarah Maan at: riseupworldmedia@gmail.com