Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

AA cops take on dangers of vagrancy

18. April 2005 • Matt Hollerbach
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I have the fortune of living across from one of the city’s 147 parks—Forsythe Park, in fact, where many of Ann Arbor’s homeless gather in the warmer months. Today at around 3:30, a police car pulled up and parked alongside the park next to Jack’s Hardware. Out of it came a uniformed officer and a younger (20’s) woman in civilian clothes. They approached two men in the park who had an array of bags and belongings with them, including a shopping cart.

After a brief exchange, the officer dumped liquid from a bottle into the trash, and returned to his car. He wrote one of the men a ticket, and both he and the woman got back in the squad car. They drove off after about 10 minutes, during which the apparent civil offender packed his things and left.

I feel safer now.

  1. Nice picture.

    It would be interesting to hear what her story is. While I’m generally going to take the same skeptical view of police harassment of park users that you’re taking, there is a role (lamentably) for police to maintain civility. If said woman was previously being harassed by the men ticketed, and felt that going to the police was the only way to address the situation, well, it may be the case that you don’t “feel safer now”, but she might, and she’s got a right to that. How long were you watching the park before the cop showed?

    (Why lamentably? (Jane mode on) Because, if my hypothetical situation of the woman involved going to the police after being harassed is correct, it is unfortunate that she felt a need to go to the police, rather than feeling she had the ability to tell the guy off herself, backed by the force of social norms – when the police need to be used to reinforce order, it’s a sign that order has faltered. (Jane mode off) Additionally, the police are a blunt object, and, as you note, it is likely that when police are used to “reinforce social order”, they’re not only going to reinforce the good part that involves women having the right to use the park in peace, but also the bad part that involves black men who “look like vagrants” being low-caste members of society.)

    Just had to toss in my $0.01 on each side of the issue. . .
       —Murph    Apr. 18 '05 - 08:35PM    #