ANN ARBOR, MI — On the anniversary of Breonna Taylor’s death, a group of protesters gathered on the Diag at the University of Michigan to call for more accountability from themselves and the community.
Hosted by the nonprofit organization Survivors Speak, several dozen protesters listened to speakers talk about accountability within themselves and community members. Survivors Speak posted pictures of an accountability pledge on their Facebook page, which says community members will be proactive, educate themselves on the needs of the community, commit to racial equity and sound the alarm against racial and social injustices to promote the building of equity.
Trische Duckworth, CEO of Survivors Speak, said they had originally planned the protest for January but it was pushed back and happened to fall on the one-year anniversary of Taylor’s death. While they were honoring Taylor and others who were victims of police brutality, Duckworth said it’s about much more than that.
“It’s not just about police brutality. It’s about racial equity, it’s about holding our legislators accountable, it’s about getting COVID-19 vaccines to the community, it’s about so much,” Duckworth said. “We have to come together and do the work. The legislators have to do their part, and we have to do ours.”
Legislators in attendance included U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, Washtenaw County Prosecutor Eli Savit and Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Victoria Burton-Harris. As elected officials, they will hold each other accountable, Burton-Harris said, but she expects community members to return the favor.
“We work for you. We serve you, and in serving you, we understand that our job is to answer to you, to be transparent and to not stop until we have reached back and gotten every last person this system has swallowed up,” Burton-Harris said.
Also in attendance were Charmelle Kelsey, the mother of an Ann Arbor Pioneer High School student who alleges that she and other Black students face a racially hostile environment at the school. Their attorney, Solomon Furious Worlds, a UM law student with the Civil Rights Litigation Initiative, called for more accountability from Pioneer and Ann Arbor Public Schools and to make their investigation into the alleged racism public.
Activists from Chelsea also participated in the event. Last month, Judge Anna Frushour declined to charge members of an antiracist activist group on impeding traffic violations during demonstrations last summer. David Bloom, a member of community movement group Drop the Charges, also called for accountability in his community within his community.
“We want to stop asking for stuff that should be a given. The way that happens is by demanding it and demanding it with a strong voice, and that’s what we’re here to do,” Bloom said.
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