On Nov. 10, 2014, Aura Rain Rosser, a mother of three and an artist who lived in Ann Arbor, was fatally shot by Ann Arbor Police Officer David Ried. To commemorate her life and advocate for justice for her death, community members gathered Thursday evening at the Ann Arbor Justice Center to hold a vigil. The vigil fell the day before the three-year anniversary of Rosser’s death.
Rosser, a Black woman, was fatally shot by officer David Ried, a white city police officer in November 2014. The county prosecutor's office deemed the shooting self-defense. Rosser's death sparked multiple protests over the past year tied to the Black Lives Matter movement, including the formation of the Ann Arbor Alliance for Black Lives in Rosser’s name.
The vigil was organized by various groups including the Ann Arbor Alliance for Black Lives and Ann Arbor to Ferguson and offered a platform for Black women to speak about Rosser as well as voice their thoughts on the injustices facing their community.
About 30 community members lit candles and huddled together to listen to several speakers. Once the speakers finished, everyone had a chance to contribute to an art piece in Rosser’s honor.
Shirley Beckley, one of the speakers as well as an Ann Arbor community member and organizer, explained the significance of continuing to honor Aura’s life every year. Beckley also drew attention to the severity with which the AAPD treated Rosser.
“This marks the third year. Aura was killed three years ago by Ann Arbor Police Officer Ried, and this marks the third year that she was not only tased — but also shot,” Beckley said. “The question was once: You tased her; why did you have to shoot her in the heart and kill her? And they’ve never answered that.”
Paquetta Palmer, a friend of Rosser’s and an Ann Arbor community member, also discussed the injustice against Rosser and said she felt Rosser’s family deserved redress from the city.
“I feel it was an unjustified killing and I think it’s better for the city to admit that than to keep acting like what happened was OK. I think that harm was done and that her family should be compensated and I just feel really sad that someone that young was taken away from us.”
Beckley was also frustrated by the lack of action taken by the Ann Arbor City Council, Police Department and mayor. She specifically called for the firing of Officer Ried.
“They could let Officer Ried go, but he still works with the police department. I know the police has a strong union, but to me, if they’re in the business of killing people then they ought to be let go and that hasn’t happened,” Beckley said.
Ann Arbor Alliance for Black Lives member Maryam Aziz furthered Beckley’s sentiments about the ignorance of the City Council on matters regarding anti-Blackness.
“We remember today, not so long ago, as Aura lay resting among the beauty of the art she imagined. Chris Taylor — your mayor — reiterated at a rally after Charlottesville that her murder was justified. These Ann Arbor and Michigan Democrats don’t care about anti-Blackness. When did they take knees before their lives were threatened?”
Austin McCoy, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan, called attention to the vigil on Twitter and echoed Aziz’s comments about Mayor Christopher Taylor’s response.
Aziz ended by emphasizing the importance of pressuring the local government until justice is served for Rosser.
“There is power in love, to love Aura is to honor her memory; it is to make haste and take action because an ultimate form of love for Aura is to make sure there is no peace. No justice, no peace; we have to continue to resist.”
Correction appendeded: A previous headline on this article mischaracterized circumstances around Rosser's death