Protesters Demand Justice After Videos of Alleged Harassment by Cops
A local Detroit minister is demanding that police conduct a swift and independent investigation after demeaning videos surfaced online allegedly showing public safety officers compelling African-American men, to sing, dance and make animal sounds.
Malik Shabazz, head of the Marcus Garvey Movement/New Black Panther Nation and a frequent critic of race relations in metro Detroit, led a group of protesters and media through the Department of Public Safety offices in Grosse Pointe Park to photograph his meeting with police leadership.
Shabazz’s protest comes about a week after a blog called Motor City Muckraker published videos and a photograph demonstrating the alleged harassment of African-Americans by police officers in this upscale neighborhood bordering Detroit. The Huffington Post reported the police department had opened an internal investigation.
Shabazz said that as a result of the meeting, officers of the public safety department — which provides police, fire and EMS services to the town — will all be individually questioned.
“We expressed our concerns, our outrage, our pain about what we saw, about human beings being, what we feel, violated and used,” Shabazz said, calling the actions in the videos “racist” and abusive.
“This is a teachable moment,” he said. “We’ve come so far, but these instances remind us that we have still so much further to go.”
One man who was featured in one of the videos and recorded being compelled to make chimpanzee sounds briefly appeared at the rally. He identified himself as Michael Ronnie Scipo and thanked supporters for attending.
“They were saying all kinds of stuff but I don’t know what they were talking about,” Scipio said when asked about the recordings, according to MLive.
The protesters said they believed the videos to be the work of one or a few bad cops, not the entire department. But they, and Shabazz, called for the immediate firing of anyone found to be involved.
“We shouldn’t be judged by our color, by our physical or mental characteristics,” Holloway said. “Especially by those who have the authority and responsibility to serve and protect.”
The protesters sought an independent investigation by the Michigan State Police — and possibly the federal government — to make sure justice is served, they said. While Shabazz said he was told by Grosse Pointe Park Police that the Michigan State Police would provide assistance, at least one news outlet reports that state police are playing no role in the administrative investigation.