On Thursday, November 9, 2017, at 6:00 p.m., the community will gather to remember Aura Rain Rosser, an artist and mother, who was fatally shot by Ann Arbor Police Department’s Officer David Ried in 2014. The community will meet at the Justice Center at 301 E. Huron, for a public speak out to remember Aura Rosser and to elevate the Black Lives Matter movement.
Since she was killed in 2014, Ann Arbor Alliance for Black Lives and Ann Arbor to Ferguson have organized an annual vigil for Aura Rosser and advocated for the justice in this case that has never been realized. Following Aura Rosser’s death, this community demanded an independent investigation of her murder and instead, what resulted was an incomplete and biased investigation conducted by the Michigan State Police. As a result, Prosecutor Brian Mackie exonerated Officer David Ried. Activists responded to the Prosecutor’s Report with the People’s Retort, documenting the ways in which justice for Aura Rosser could never be achieved in a racist system that aims to protect itself first, rather than to seek justice. Still serving on the Ann Arbor police force, Ried had a history of involvement in racist policing according to a law suit filed in 2012, V.R. Entertainment vs. The City of Ann Arbor. Aura Rosser’s family has received no compensation for the loss of Aura’s life and, despite pleas from activists and the community, her grave remains unmarked due to the monetary burden of a headstone.
Following Aura Rosser’s murder, Ann Arbor to Ferguson made several demands of Ann Arbor City Council, including that a police oversight board be established. As a result of their organizing, Ann Arbor City Council and the Ann Arbor Human Rights Commission hired a Chicago firm to survey community police relations. The results of this survey will be presented at a special meeting on November 16, 2017. Because the survey designed and conducted by Hillard Heintze did not reach the largest population negatively impacted by police interaction, the effectiveness of its recommended changes to the Ann Arbor Police Department are questionable.
Transforming Justice Washtenaw charges itself to take up the work of Ann Arbor to Ferguson, alongside some of its former members.
Together, on November 9, 2017, we will say Aura Rain Rosser’s name with the recognition, respect, and dignity denied by Ann Arbor’s leadership. We will honor her life in this community and in all the other communities she touched. We will recommit to a fight for justice for Aura Rosser that will hold David Ried accountable for his actions, will provide monetary compensation to her family, and will make systematic changes to a policing system that disproportionately kills, harasses, arrests, and incarcerates Black folks and people with mental illness. We seek to end the reality of Black folks filling the county jail, Black youth in handcuffs on the street, and lethal force on Black residents in their homes. We gather together to name the emotional, physical, and economic impacts of policing and violence on Black women, who are so often erased. We gather together to say that Black Lives Matter. We gather together to challenge Ann Arbor City Council members and Washtenaw County Commissioners to engage in critical, transformative change to end racist policing and end racism in the criminal justice system.