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The Eastern Echo Podcast Logo Fall 2019

Michigan Attorney General denies charges against officer; City Council votes on anti-discrimination ordinance

The Office of the Michigan Attorney General denies charges against the Washtenaw County Sherriff's Deputy regarding a use-of-force incident, and Ypsilanti City Council votes that it is illegal to discriminate against someone who has a misdemeanor convicti

Liz Hornyak: On this week’s episode, EMU honors the late Marilyn Horace-Moore by naming a scholarship after her, and the Ypsilanti City Council votes that it is illegal to discriminate against someone who has a misdemeanor conviction. I am your host Liz Hornyak and this is the Eastern Echo Podcast.

Professor Marilyn Horace-Moore taught at EMU for over 25 years before her unexpected death in April. Horace-Moore taught criminal justice and policing within the university’s Criminology and Criminal Justice Department. She was also the academic advisor for the entire department, which encompassed 600 students, and she was the coordinator of the criminology internship program.

Before becoming a professor at EMU, Horace-Moore was the first black female police officer to serve undercover in the Drug Enforcement Unit for the Ypsilanti Police Department, and the Michigan State Police. She was also the first black woman to become a lieutenant in the Ypsilanti Police Department. She served in this position from 1973-1994.

EMU has established a new scholarship in her name for criminology and criminal justice majors. The scholarship is in the amount of $400. Students who wish to apply must:

  • Have a declared major in criminology or criminal justice

  • Be enrolled for the fall term of the award year

  • Have achieved a minimum of 60 credit hours at the time of applying for the scholarship

  • Applicants also have to write an essay detailing their financial need or their future careers goals within law enforcement.

“I think that so many times we have students who get close to finishing their program or term and encounter financial difficulties which can be very disheartening,“ Dr. Denise Reiling, a professor of sociology at EMU, and a chairmen of the committee for the scholarship said. "Having an additional $400 truly can make a difference and determine whether or not a student finishes their degree.”

Students have until February 15, 2021 to apply for the scholarship. The recipients of the scholarship will be notified no later than April 15.

The Michigan Office of the Attorney General has denied charges against the Washtenaw County Deputy Sheriff involved in a use of force incident that took place earlier this year. 

On May 26, in the Appleridge Neighborhood of Ypsilanti Township, a viral video spread on Facebook Live of officer Austin Pearson repeatedly punching Sha’Teina Grady El in the head. During this incident, police also tased Sha’Teina’s husband Daniel. Following the video, the public was outraged and organized numerous protests in Ypsilanti. On Sept. 15, the Attorney General's Office released this statement:

“The use of force was justified and appropriate given the suspects level of resistance, and that he committed no criminal offense in his interactions with Sha’Teina Grady El.”

Sha’Teina Grady El is being charged with three counts of resisting and obstructing an officer, a two-year felony, and one count of resisting and obstructing an officer causing injury, a   four year felony. She also faces one count of malicious destruction of police property, a four-year felony. 

Daniel Grady El is being charged with two counts of resisting and obstructing an officer, a two-year felony. No court dates have been set, and arraignment is still pending.

On Sept. 15, the Ypsilanti City council unanimously voted that discriminating against people with misdemeanor convictions would be illegal.

This vote was a revision of Ordinance 1279. Originally, the ordinance only covered people who had federal charges. Individuals with misdemeanors could still be subject to discrimination. Ordinance 1279 is an ordinance designed to prevent discrimination within Ypsilanti.

Despite the unanimous decision, city council members and city officials have some concerns about the ordinance. City Attorney John Barr stated that the ordinance is not crystal clear, because the ordinance prohibits discrimination but lacks the specifics on what that discrimination may entail.

John Barr: If the person puts on their application they’ve been convicted of a misdemeanor that might be evidence toward discrimination, but again, in the ordinance there’s a provision that says you can’t unreasonably discriminate against somebody with a misdemeanor but if the misdemeanor would have a direct bearing on the object.

For instance, if you’re hiring someone to deal with a lot of money and they have prior misdemeanor conviction of embezzlement or fraud or stealing. That would be something that could be considered. It wouldn’t be considered wrongful discrimination if you said, ‘Well I’m not going to let a person with record of criminal financial behavior handle my money.' It’s not a crystal clear thing. "

Liz Hornyak: The City of Ypsilanti first established the Discrimination Ordinance in 2017. This ordinance prohibits discrimination based on immigration status, sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity. People that feel that they have been discriminated against can file a civil action against the offender. Anyone who is found guilty of violating the ordinance can pay a fine of up to $500.

Washtenaw County Prosecutor nominee, Eli Savit stopped at Parkridge Park on Sept. 22 to discuss the criminal justice system with Ypsilanti residents. This was done as part of the Criminal Justice Listening Tour.

Along with Savit, other panelists were Washtenaw Public Defender Delphia T. Simpson, Chief Judge of the Washtenaw County Trial Court Carol Kuhnke, and Washtenaw County Judge Patrick Conlin.

During this discussion, members of the public had three minutes to pose their questions and concerns about the criminal justice system. The two main topics of discussion were the Citizens for Racial Equity in Washtenaw(CREW) report and inmates with mental illness.

The CREW report showed that people of color are more likely to be charged with felonies than their white counterparts.

“When we identify where we’re seeing differential treatment my vow is that we are going to eliminate that differential treatment,” Savit said of the finding.

As part of the forum, a U of M student brought up the fact that people with mental illness are three times more likely to go to jail than to receive the care that they need. In response, Savit stated that the screening process for individuals with mental illness needs to be improved, and that more funding needs to go towards treatment centers.

The next stops of the tour include Timber Town Park on Tuesday, Sept.29 and Wheeler Park on Wednesday, Sept. 30. To attend you must RSVP. To do that go to the link on our website. All forums are outside and masks are required.

Reported: Cameryn Eberly, Tyler Gaw, Julianna Lumaj

Script: Jasmine Boyd

Host: Liz Hornyak

Produced: Lauren Smith