Nearly one year after an Ann Arbor police officer fatally shot Ann Arbor resident Aura Rosser while responding to domestic violence call, members of Ann Arbor to Ferguson — a local activist group associated with the Black Lives Matter movement — protested outside City Hall on Thursday night as part of a continuing effort to condemn and raise awareness of police brutality.
The organization was formed one year ago in direct protest to the nature of Rosser’s death. On Nov. 9, 2014, Officer David Ried shot and killed Rosser. On Jan. 30, 2015, the Washtenaw County prosecutor’s report deemed Ried’s actions reflective of “lawful self-defense.” No charges were brought against him.
According to the report, police officers arrived on the scene following a call from Victor Stephens, with whom Rosser was living at the time. The officers saw her attacking Stephens with a knife in her hand; when she saw the officers, she began to approach them. Ried fatally shot Rosser after ordering her to put down the knife, while fellow Officer Mark Raab simultaneously shot Rosser with a Taser.
Thursday’s protest, which included about 30 people, strategically took place during an event at City Hall for community members to meet candidates for the Ann Arbor Police Chief position.
O’shai Ahmad-Robinson, Ann Arbor to Ferguson event organizer, said the organization’s central mission is to encourage City Council to revoke Ried’s contract with the AAPD, pay restitution to Rosser’s family and ultimately promote systemic changes within the city’s law enforcement system to combat racially charged police brutality.
“We want laws to hold police accountable for the things they do in the community,” Ahmad-Robinson said. “What happened here and what happens around the country a lot of the time is police use excessive force, and then when it’s time to hold them accountable, someway, somehow they are able to justify their force.”
The group additionally asks for City Council to establish an independent Citizens Review Board dedicated to addressing issues of police misconduct, as well as to promote officer-training reform.
Ahmad-Robinson, who has experience organizing similar events in Baltimore, said he was impressed with the turnout at City Hall. He added that the city of Ann Arbor’s Human Rights Commission — which met Thursday to discuss the plans — has been working to initiate a policy that promotes accountability within the law enforcement system by allowing citizens to file complaints about officers.
“That’s getting going, but what we want to see is that those laws actually do something because a lot of the times laws are written and things are done, but nothing really changes,” Ahmad-Robinson said.
Rackham student Scott Fox attended the protest and said he was motivated to join Ann Arbor to Ferguson because he believes police should not be permitted to fire at citizens without loaded firearms.
“Policemen shouldn’t be killing unarmed people. It’s simple,” Fox said.
Following the protest outside, members of Ann Arbor to Ferguson filed into the Ann Arbor City Council chambers and held signs advocating justice for Rosser throughout the meeting. Several public commenters also demanded an end to police brutality within the city.