LSA freshman Makiah Shipp has become the youngest member of the Independent Community Police Oversight Commission, an Ann Arbor group that promotes civilian oversight of law enforcement and helps bridge the gap between police officers and their communities. The commission was formed by the Ann Arbor City Council in 2018 after instances of police brutality within the Ann Arbor Police Department, specifically the police killing of Aura Rosser in 2014.
Shipp joined the commission at the beginning of the school year and said her new role will allow her to advocate for racial and social justice in a way that is meaningful for her.
“Being a Black woman, it’s very important to understand social justice and how the climate of the nation is changing so quickly,” Shipp said. “I knew it would be important for me to take on a role that allows me to make the change that I want to see.”
The committee chose Shipp after seeking a young person’s perspective for the commission. ICPOC Chair Lisa Jackson said she is eager to work with Shipp and have her “Gen Z viewpoint” on the commission.
“We’re happy to have Makiah’s input, but also for her to do outreach with other young people,” Jackson said. “It is clear that young people often have interactions with police that differ from other demographics.”
Though Shipp said she has no previous experience in policing, she is confident that she can excel in the role and wants to do whatever possible to be an asset to the community.
“I’m a learner,” Shipp said. “I’m very optimistic about everything and ready to take on any critiques or advice that people give me. And on top of that, I feel like I have a unique perspective being a student, a person of color and a woman.”
Shipp worked with U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., last summer, aiding her office in constituent outreach. After learning more about the nature of public policy, Shipp says she hopes to take the lessons she learned into her new position.
Jackson said Shipp’s unique resume makes her a very qualified candidate for the position.
“Makiah’s past experiences working with Rashida Tlaib are unusual for such a young person, and we know that she brings a large array of skills and talents,” Jackson said. “She is also an exceptional thinker, so we look forward to engaging with her around policy issues as well.”
Shipp said her work is motivated by her family. Coming from a single-parent household with a mother who is disabled, Shipp faced many challenges growing up. Shipp said as a first-generation college student receiving a full scholarship to the University, she wants to make the most of her education for her family.
“I knew that I had to pull myself up from my bootstraps and figure out a way to be able to afford college for myself,” Shipp said. “I also knew that my experience was not unique to me, so I wanted to show other people from my high school that they could do it as well.”
The ICPOC is currently focusing on understanding how facial recognition can lead to racism in policing. They are also working to ensure that community members know they can come directly to the ICPOC if they experience police bias.
On top of those goals, Shipp is working on some projects of her own within the commission.
“This year, I hope that she is able to help with community outreach and really take over social media and engagement throughout Ann Arbor,” Jackson said. “We’ve had some meetings with student leaders on campus (like) Black Medical Students, GEO (Graduate Employees’ Organization) and others, but not nearly as much as we’d like.”
Because the ICPOC was formed fairly recently, Shipp said she knows it will take time for the U-M community to become more involved.
“We still have time to build a connection, but it’s definitely a two-sided thing,” Shipp said. “It takes both sides to be able to vocalize and communicate problems to our commission.”
Shipp has a one-year appointment on the commission, after which another student will take her place.
Daily Staff Reporter Ashna Mehra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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