By Fighting Words Staff
A protest against police killings and brutality against African Americans was held in Ann Arbor, MI on April 17. More than 100 protestors from Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti were joined by Detroiters, including members of the Black Syndicate Motorcycle Club. The protest was called to honor George Floyd and to also call attention to brutality of the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s deputies.
Protesters shutdown Washtenaw Avenue, the main thoroughfare between the cities of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, for more than an hour, and marched to the headquarters of the Sheriff’s department for a rally.
Sha’Teina Grady El spoke about the criminal charges that she and her husband, Dan Grady El, face after being brutally arrested by two sheriff’s deputies, on May 27, 2020. BLM activists are demanding that all charges against the Grady El’s be dropped.
Two Black men spoke about their experiences as teenagers growing up in Detroit in the late 1980’s and 90’s. Both men were sadistically beaten by Detroit Police Officers Larry Nevers and Walter Budzyn. One man had scars on his face visible from 50 feet away. Nicknamed “Starsky and Hutch”, thsee sadistic cops were known on the street for their frequent brutal and sometimes deadly encounters with Black men. Budzyn and Nevers were convicted of manslaughter for savagely beating Malice Green to death on Nov. 5, 1992.
Mike Shane, from the Moratorium Now Coalition, spoke about a recent incident at a grocery store in Ypsilanti where Shirley Stewart’s daughter Bridgett Whittaker was assaulted by a couple of white people and fought back. Stewart and Whittaker are Black. At least four calls were made to 911, including from three eyewitnesses, who reported that a fight had broken out that was started by a white woman and that a white man had brandished a gun. Callers reported that up to 12 persons were involved, including two Black women. At least four sheriff’s vehicles arrived and the deputies immediately went after the two Black women. A deputy drew his gun on Stewart. She was pushed onto the hood of her vehicle. Her mask and wig ended up on the ground and her glasses were damaged. Whittaker was handcuffed and placed in a sheriff’s vehicle because she defended herself “too hard”. Stewart’s vehicle was searched without permission while her three terrified grandchildren were inside. Meanwhile, the deputies let the armed white man and the white woman who initiated the assault leave after a brief conversation. For days afterwards, Stewart’s two-year-old grandson would ask, “Are the police going to shoot grandma?”
The action was organized by Survivor’s Speak and Value Black Lives.