The Ann Arbor City Council unanimously voted Monday to appropriate $173,760 to upgrade police in-car and body cameras, a move intended to help officers objectively evaluate police interactions with the public.
Before Monday’s City Council meeting, protesters marched from the Ann Arbor Justice Center on East Huron to the Washtenaw County Building to protest the death of 40-year-old Aura Rosser, who was shot and killed by an Ann Arbor Police officer last month.
The protesters also marched in solidarity with Michael Brown, an unarmed Black teenager who was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo. over the summer. Chanting, “Black lives matter” and “How do you spell murder? AAPD,” about 200 protesters blocked traffic and demanded justice in the face of police brutality.
Many of the protestors filled the City Council meeting room and spoke in support of the resolution to equip Ann Arbor Police officers with body cameras. The resolution passed unanimously with the support of Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor, who welcomed the large number of protesters who crowded the meeting.
“I think this is an important national conversation we’re having,” Taylor said. “I believe that everyone in Ann Arbor has a right to be and feel safe and it’s important that we have that conversation here as well.”
The protesters called on the city to fire David Ried, the 15-year AAPD veteran who shot Rosser while on duty. They also demanded the city pay for Rosser’s burial. The protesters argued that city officials must address what they perceive as the systemic nature of racist policing in the United States.
Councilmember Chuck Warpehoski (D–Ward 5) echoed Taylor’s remarks, saying he was pleased with the high attendance of protesters and empathized with their frustration.
“I absolutely understand the frustration and the anger and the concern that Black lives do matter and not always seeing that reflected in what they see happening across the country,” Warpehoski said. “We don’t know the details of this specific case so I understand why they’re frustrated by not having that information released yet, but some of the demands they’re making I felt were premature.”
The Michigan State Police is currently investigating the shooting and additional information about the incident has not yet been made available.
Ann Arbor resident Jeffery Harrold said he hopes the Council’s resolution would aid in repairing that relationship between police officers and community members.
“The police have been an issue and a force of oppression for African Americans since the founding of this nation,” Harrold said. “We don’t trust the police. And so what we need is transparency, even in the killing of Aura Rosser. I would say it has taken too long to give us some information.”
One public commenter asked for three minutes of silence as a sign of respect for each of Rosser’s three children. The crowd grew angry and began chanting when Taylor attempted to proceed with the meeting. He ultimately conceded the time.
Though the resolution passed unanimously, some councilmembers, including Sabra Briere (D–Ward 1), expressed concerns regarding possible privacy issues, budgetary concerns and how to regulate a police officer’s ability to turn their cameras off.
“I understand completely how powerless everybody engaged in this issue feels, members of Council, members of the public both,” she said. “And that a challenge we face is making good decisions when we have too little information. I tried very hard to exercise patience. It’s a little easier for me. I’m a middle-aged white person.”