Ypsilanti City Council held its regular meeting in the McKenny Ball room Tuesday, Oct. 20. About 28 protestors holding signs lined the back of the ballroom.
Some of the signs read “danger police in area,” “justice delayed is justice denied,” “Black lives matter.”
Student’s marched from Eastern Michigan University DPS to McKenny chanting “hey now hey now, we want freedom freedom… racist cops we don’t need them need them”
“The fact this meeting is on campus is important it gives students a chance to have a voice, this needs to be talked about,” Shaina Johnson, senior, communications major said.
Marchers stood outside and held signs silently.
The meeting began at 7:11 p.m. shortly after the Pledge of Allegiance student protesters came up the stairs chanting and then stood silent in the ballroom.
During the first audience participation section at the front of the meeting 12 students spoke to City Council.
Most of the speakers talked about needing police reform, telling personal stories of being discriminated against, miss treated, and abused by police.
“I was attached by DPS for standing up to a movie,” Jenna Hamed, EMU alumna said. “I am not a threat but this school sees me otherwise.”
Darius Simpson, senior, political science major spoke out about the danger of letting small issues get pushed away.
“It is not a crazy idea that something more could happen here,” Simpson said. “The only difference between up and Ferguson is that nothing has happened on a national scale here, in Ypsi, recently.”
Students spoke about DPS discrimination when it comes to events and parties hosted by students of color.
“Since being detained last year at the movie protest there has been DPS at every MESA event, like they are waiting for us to do something,” Hamed said.
“TRIBE is Teaching Remembering Inspiring Being Explosive, we express ourselves through music not violence but we are still called a gang,” TRIBE member Chris Asaka said. “It seems we can’t do anything without being racially profiled.
Other students from the Native American Student Organization spoke about how the City of Ypsilanti is trying to further develop the city on Native graves.
“We had a previous conversation with the Mayor telling her there are graves there and she wanted us to find out how many, asked if we could relocate them, she would take on faith the graves were there,” Michelle Lietz, NASO member, said.
Lietz spoke at the meeting and support the resolution to change Columbus Day to Indigenous People day but encouraged the city to continue to have the conversation with Native people in Ypsilanti to improve other things such as the plan to develop on native graves.
After the audience was done speaking Council had an opportunity to respond to the speakers.
“I want to commend the students who came out, this would not have happened when I was an Eastern student,” Council Member Nicole Brown said.
The mayor encouraged students with issues to schedule a meeting with her and to use the city of Ypsi complaint form if there is an issue with Ypsi city police.
“We use the complaint form to evaluate trends to see what needs to be changed or fixed,” Mayor Edmonds said. “I have learned a lot more from the voices here today and I encourage you all to continue to come to our meetings.”
After the council responded the protesters left seeing “We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.”
City Council honored NAACP officer and recently sworn in Student Senator, Tanasia Morton for her on campus leadership.
City Council declared this Saturday, Oct. 24, Rosie the Riveter Day.
No student protesters stayed to speak at the end of the meeting.
City Council meets again at City hall next week, Tuesday Oct, 27.