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Detroit police shootings provoke community outrage

Published Jun 11, 2009 8:23 PM

Over 100 people gathered on Detroit’s west side at Euclid and Holmur on May 31 to protest the shootings of three African-American youths earlier in the month. Community residents and relatives of the victims say the shootings were unprovoked.

Witnesses say Detroit police officers walked onto a porch on Montgomery Street on May 20 and then shot three people. One of the victims, Antonio Jennings, 24, was gravely wounded.

Jennings’ mother, Titania Shipp, said that her son was shot five times. His wounds were so severe that he was revived twice at the hospital. Jennings is in police custody and is being charged with attempted murder, felonious assault and carrying a concealed weapon.

“I have no information on the circumstances surrounding the shooting of my son. I was not allowed to see him at the hospital. Due to the intervention of his lawyer, I was able to speak to him once over the telephone,” Shipp said.

Jennings’ attorney, Gordana Misovski, also attended the rally. “In my years as a practicing attorney I have not seen anything of this magnitude,” Misovski stated.

Christopher Norman, 19, who was slightly wounded in the shooting incident, was arrested on May 30 for allegedly standing on a corner. His mother, Teenica Banks, chaired the rally on May 31. She said the shooting had taken place at her mother’s home.

Members of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality helped organize the rally and issued a list of four demands, including an apology from Detroit Mayor David Bing and Police Chief James Barren on the officers’ conduct, and the payment of restitution and repair of damage police inflicted on the home at which the shooting took place.

Two other demands call for an “investigation of the incident in question by the Detroit City Council, the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners and the U.S. Department of Justice, along with the charging of the officers by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.”

The wounding of these youths follows a pattern of increased police misconduct and brutality in Detroit. On April 10, Robert Mitchell, age 16 of Detroit, was chased back into the city and tased by the Warren Police. Mitchell later died from his injuries.

The deceased’s mother, Cora Mitchell, attended the rally and expressed her concern for the three youths and their families. On May 21, 300 people demonstrated in the northeast Detroit neighborhood and in Warren against the failure of the Wayne County Prosecutor to file criminal charges against the police officers involved in Mitchell’s death.

During the May 31 rally, police pulled up to a group of African-American youths nearby. The cops, who were dressed in riot gear and wore masks, jumped out of their vehicles and ordered the youths against a fence. Several rally participants walked over and inquired whether the officers had warrants. The police then backed off and left the scene.