Chants of “Black Lives Matter,” “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” and “Say Her Name” carried across downtown of Ann Arbor on Monday night as students, residents and local activists protested the one-year anniversary of Aura Rosser’s death.
Rosser, a Black Ann Arbor resident, was shot and killed by Ann Arbor Police Officer David Ried, who was responding to a domestic violence call from her home on Nov. 9, 2014.
The protest was organized by a group called Ann Arbor to Ferguson and was one of a series of events coinciding with the anniversary of Rosser’s death. On Thursday, Nov. 5, protestors from Ann Arbor to Ferguson gathered in front of City Hall and spoke at Thursday’s City Council meeting to demand an end to police brutality in the city.
The march started at City Hall at 6 p.m. with an original song composed by one of the protestors. Subsequently, Maryam Aziz, a Rackham student and Ann Arbor to Ferguson member, took the microphone to reflect on the last year.
“For one year we have marched,” Aziz told the crowd. “We have marched all over this city, as is our right. We have been an unstoppable force in the landscape of Ann Arbor’s social and racial politics.”
According to the Washtenaw County prosecutor’s report released in January, Ried was responding to a domestic violence call from the man who was living with Rosser at the time. He said Rosser had attacked him with a knife. According to the report, Rosser began to approach Ried and fellow Officer Mark Raab with the knife after they had told her to drop it. After disobeying orders to put it down, Ried fatally shot Rosser while Raab simultaneously shocked Rosser with a Taser.
On Jan. 30, 2015, the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office announced there would be no charges against Ried, concluding that he acted in “lawful self-defense.”
Aziz said Ann Arbor does not feel like a safe place for Black residents, and said Ann Arbor to Ferguson has been working to change the racial dynamic in the city.
“We are … one year since the murderous tragedy that we will make sure reshapes the narrative of this town’s history,” she said. “Her Blackness has painted this pale city red with the colors of its own racist injustices,” Aziz said. “Her Blackness has shaded this city as the place of liberal hypocrisy that it is, masked by its own self image of love and caring.”
The march blocked traffic and protesters surrounded cars with their signs. Some drivers were honking and trying to drive around the protest; however, protesters filled most of the street. Several participants were handing out flyers to pedestrians passing by.
LSA junior Adi Tzalel said she came to the march in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. She said she hopes this type of event can educate people about police brutality.
“There needs to be more education about the police system,” Tzalel said. “We need to decriminalize a lot of the police and not have them carry so many firearms, especially in situations when the people that they’re going to don’t have the capability to kill them.”
Another student, LSA sophomore Darian Razdar, said he came here with a group from the Residential College’s Feminist Forum.
“I came to stand in solidarity with a cause that I really believe in and support Black Lives Matter as a movement,” Razdar said.
Rackham student Austin McCoy, an Ann Arbor to Ferguson member, said the group is trying to convey the same requests of communication and apology from the city that they’ve been demanding for the past year.
“We stand firm behind the things that we were demanding last year, and what we were demanding is the officer be fired, that the city apologized to the family, and we demand that they would pay for funeral expenses because killing someone who is presumably a worker and caregiver creates a big gaping hole in the family,” McCoy said.
The protest ended in a vigil and candle lighting in Liberty Square Plaza.