March 18th, 2021
This week the people of Detroit achieved an important victory. U.S. District Judge Laurie Michelson threw out an outlandish, dangerous, and costly effort by the Chief of Police, Mayor Mike Duggan and the majority of the City Council to squash dissent. This lawsuit was an obvious effort to intimidate those who dared to stand up against police brutality. It was a petty “pay back,” aimed at punishing Detroit Will Breathe and activists who successfully challenged Detroit Police violence in court.
After the murder of George Floyd, thousands of people in Detroit joined others around the country demanding change. Calls emerged for everything from minor changes in police practices to the abolition of policing. Efforts to defund police and reinvest in communities are a persistent rallying cry. Many of these calls have resulted in actions. In the November election, communities across the country approved ballot initiatives that increased civilian oversight, shifted funds to community programs, and increased support for mental health initiatives.
Seemingly oblivious to this growing public criticism of police practices, Mayor Duggan and Chief Craig supported the direct use of excessive force against lawfully assembled demonstrations. Peaceful demonstrators were met with “beatings, tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, sound cannons, flash grenades, chokeholds and mass arrests without probable cause.” In September, the Court ruled in favor of Detroit Will Breathe and ordered the police to stop using these violent tactics. It was this ruling, finding for the demonstrators and against the police, that provoked the counter suit, charging conspiracy.
This is the suite thrown out of court. The ruling is an indictment of the shallow, self-serving arguments cobbled together by the Mayor and the Chief. The judge bluntly stated that the city “fails to establish the essential elements of a civil conspiracy claim under Michigan law.” Further, “Their allegations about planning and coordination of the conspiracy are limited to media interviews with individual plaintiffs and posts on social media about attending the protests, but not about any unlawful action. Most of the statements and posts that the City points to in no way suggest an agreement, let alone one to commit unlawful acts. Instead, they’re simply evidence of DWB organizing and publicizing public protests, albeit with occasional strident and passionate language.”
Judge Michelson rejected the arguments advanced by the City and took the additional step of dismissing the case “with prejudice,” meaning that the city cannot refile this suit. She said, “It can’t be corrected. It was without merit.’’
This entire episode brings forward serious questions about the capacity of the Mayor, his Chief of Police, and the majority of the City Council to hold the power to lead. Only weeks ago, they dedicated an additional $200,000 of taxpayer money to support this attack on demonstrators and free speech. The Mayor is calling for a $41 million increase in the police budget, and he is trying to intensify fears of crime to justify it.
In his State of the City Address, Mayor Duggan talked about the importance of returning to normal. His normal includes not only opening restaurants and schools, but the acceleration of an aggressive police force and restoration of the punitive justice system.
There was not a single word about police reform. Not a word about what the Mayor or Chief need to think about, given the recent public rebuke of their practices. Not a word about the pain of people in our city at the hands of this ongoing violence. Not a word about the hopeful lessons we have learned about our overcrowding of jails, and the inequities of cash bail.
Detroit cannot go into the future with leadership that stokes fear, denies the depth of racism embedded in the very concept of policing, and ignores the most urgent questions of our public life. We can do better, be better. Over the next few months, as people step forward to ask for our support for elected offices, we need to ask some hard questions of them and of ourselves.ourselves.
A message from the Truth Toward Reconciliation (TTR) Project Team:
You are receiving this email because you have expressed interest and or information was shared with you regarding the initiative, Truth Toward Reconciliation (TTR): “The Vision, Journey, and Voices of Royal Oak Charter Township.” Below you will find how you can participate in this historical initiative and a communication link to general information about the project.
In this moment of national reckoning of history and race, the words “Systemic Racism” and “Structural Racism” are now in our national conversation. Most suburban communities have never confronted their historical role in the segregation, suburban sprawl, and racisms that have shaped our home. Friends of Royal Oak Township and our community partners aim to transform our understanding of our own histories in South Oakland County. Few know the history of Charter Township of Royal Oak and how the Township’s original 36 square miles, currently .55 square miles, were siphoned off to create what is now Ferndale, Hazel Park, Royal Oak, Berkley, Madison Heights, and the rest of South Oakland County.
Please join The Friends of Royal Oak Township and our partners throughout South Oakland County for an on-going introduction to our project: Truth Toward Reconciliation (TTR): “The Vision, Journey, and Voices of Royal Oak Charter Township,” which includes an oral history project with residents of the ten subject communities in Southern Oakland County, with priority given to documenting the voices of long-time (current and former) residents of historical Royal Oak Township.
We will be gathering Saturday, March 20th, at 3pm for a Zoom call to introduce the project and build community engagement through the collective exploration of our past, present, and future.
Registration Required: Space is limited, registration is required by March 19th. Future sessions will be scheduled. Register in advance for this meeting:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
If you cannot attend this meeting but would like to get involved or support please reach out to us at ttrOutreach@forot.org.
Please check out the link to the TTR GoFundMe as well and share the below link:
The TTR Project Team
UUSF FORUM March 7, 2021
Not A Nation of Immigrants: Settler Colonialism, White Supremacy, and a History of Erasure and Exclusion with Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz.
Many Americans, regardless of party affiliation, whether in political debates or discussions about immigration, proudly state that we are a nation of immigrants. In this bold new book, historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz asserts this ideology is harmful and dishonest because it serves to mask and diminish the US’s history of genocide, white supremacy, slavery, and structural inequality, all of which we still grapple with today. WATCH