Reimagine Community: Declaration of Intent

“In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” –MLK, Jr.
Aura Rain Rosser was tased, and shot dead by Ann Arbor police early on November 10, 2014. The Michigan State Police conducted an investigation and on January 30, 2015 Washtenaw County Prosecutor Brian Mackie announced his decision not to indict Officer David Ried for homicide.
Sergeant Jim Anderson visited Wayne State University to discuss his latest invention on the afternoon of December 7, 2009. Washtenaw County Deputies intimidated and harassed Anderson near south Harris Road off Vreeland Road in Superior Township. In March of 2010, Anderson received a letter from the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office stating that they had investigated the incident and Lieutenant Jim Anuszkiewicz “concluded that the deputies on the scene acted appropriately in there [sic] contact with you.”
David Antjuan Ware (an unarmed black Ypsilantian) was shot and killed after being pursued by LAWNET, a regional narcotics unit on January 23, 2007. Uriah Hamilton, an Ypsilanti Police Department officer discharged his weapon three times in a residential neighborhood, disregarding the safety of the public. Brian Mackie issued a statement of no wrongdoing on February 7, 2007 in favor of Hamilton.
August 9, 2014 is the last time that an officer in Washtenaw County has discharged their weapon or used deadly force to affect the arrest of a citizen. With that in mind, let’s reimagine community.
Ascribing to the national narrative regarding public safety, law enforcement misconduct, and corrections is dangerous. Everyone in Washtenaw County deserves high quality, public safety alternatives. First responders should be professionals, equipped to receive nonviolent individuals. Law enforcement officers lack on-going comprehensive training and should not be responsible for the needs of individuals challenged by cognitive dissonance, or individuals seeking care after abuse.

Let’s reimagine what we can accomplish together in pursuit of justice and equity.

Washtenaw County’s correctional system needs to be re-evaluated, its infrastructure isn’t designed to rehabilitate, it is designed to demobilize and detain. Reducing access to enrichment limits nonviolent transgressors from developing life skills and confidence in their capabilities. Housing nonviolent youth in repressive environments induces fear, uncertainty, and insecurity. Expecting youth and detained individuals to return to society prepared for reintegration without the proper tools in place to aide the transition is inhumane. 
Let’s devote energies towards establishing partnerships with existing youth serving agencies and other organizations committed to providing Washtenaw County residents opportunity for upward mobility. 
Elect individuals willing to propose legislation that offers reparations to victims and their families of law enforcement violence. Support a candidate willing to redirect policing and prison funds to social good alternatives. Vote for leadership that advocates for legislative proposals that require police officers to carry personal liability insurance to cover costs of brutality or death claims.
Let’s disinvest from mass incarceration, hyper policing, and the criminalization of male- and female-bodied people of color, youth, and the LGBTQ+ community.
Male- and female-bodied people of color, youth, and the LGBTQ+ community should not have to continue negotiating their citizenship in their daily walk. Challenge our County Sheriff to develop new revenue streams, instead of allowing current standards to reduce the general populace to the economic drivers of our local corrections system.
Until we eradicate discriminatory policies and practices, journalists will continue to represent our work as mere issue advocacy. Voters are the decision-makers, officials are responsible for amplifying the values of said voters. Reclaim your civil rights, exercise your rights, and vote.
If you’re ready to reimagine community, join D’Real R. Graham on November 8, 2016 and act on your values.
Learn more about D’Real R. Graham here