Police terror kills 7-year-old girl; Jobs gone, Detroiters face growing repression
May 19, 2010
At 12:35 a.m. on May 16, more than 20 Detroit police officers staged a raid
at a two-family dwelling on the east side where they said a warrant was to be
served for a suspect in a recent murder case. The police threw a flash bomb
through the front window of the frame house. It caused a fire in the bed where
7-year-old Aiyana Stanley Jones was sleeping alongside her grandmother,
Aiyana Stanley Jones
Then the cops kicked in the door of the downstairs flat. A few seconds later
Aiyana Jones was shot by a police officer in the neck and head. Her grandmother
Mertilla Jones told this writer she “saw the light go out in her
eyes.” Young Aiyana was dead.
The next few hours were harrowing for the families living in the home.
Charles Jones, Aiyana’s father, said there was no warning and that the
incendiary device thrown into the home was the first sign of a police
Jones said later that sections of the couch where Mertilla and Aiyana Jones
were sleeping were “cut up and taken to the police station as
evidence.” For more than three hours the police ransacked the house and
held several of its residents in detention outside the home.
Charles Jones said that he was held face down for hours by the police.
Aiyana’s aunt, Lakrystal Sanders, recalled how she was kept outside in
the cold with no shoes for two hours by the police. “Why didn’t the
police come when it was daylight, why did they come at night?” she
Sanders also noted that “there was an unmarked vehicle parked in front
of the house” for hours the day before the actual raid. She stated the
police told her they were looking for her fiancé as a suspect in the
killing of a 17-year-old.
“They never knocked and I was coming to open the door when I heard an
explosion and the police kicked in the door,” Sanders said.
Mertilla Jones was taken into police custody for several hours after the
raid and then released without being charged. Corporate-owned media reported
that she was being held because the grandmother had purportedly reached for the
officer’s gun, prompting the shooting. Jones denies these
“I never did anything, they are lying. They killed my
grandbaby,” Jones said. “I laid down and put the blanket over
Aiyana and the window exploded.”
The raid was filmed by the “The First 48” television show for an
episode airing at a later date. In light of the killing of Aiyana, the
videotape could prove to be quite revealing in reconstructing the events of the
early morning police action.
Repression escalates in city
There is a growing pattern in Detroit of brutality and repression carried
out by law-enforcement and other state agencies.
In response to the killing of Aiyana Jones, the Detroit Coalition Against
Police Brutality dedicated its entire radio program on May 16 to exposing the
incident. “Fighting for Justice” airs every Sunday morning at 10
a.m. on AM station 1310 WDTW. The DCAPB organized a press conference and
candlelight vigil for later that day outside the Jones’ home.
The week prior to the Jones’ killing, five Detroit police officers
were shot, one fatally, inside a vacant home on the east side. A 25-year-old
African-American suspect was wounded at the scene and taken into custody.
Ron Scott, spokesperson for DCAPB and co-host of “Fighting for
Justice,” told the media after these shootings that the incident was a
reflection of the increasing tension between the Detroit police and people in
the city. Police Chief Warren Evans, in response to a question during a press
conference on the shooting of the officers, said Scott’s remarks were
“insensitive and ignorant.”
There was a flood of attacks from the police against Scott and the DCAPB in
the corporate-owned media. Scott contends that his words were taken out of
context and refused to issue the apology demanded by law enforcement and the
On a local Fox 2 news program called “Let It Rip,” Scott debated
the police chief and three other media and legal pundits for the network. The
program was widely viewed and the station was inundated with calls asking for
the segment to be re-aired. The program was put up in full on the
station’s website a few days later.
Other crises face Detroiters
Detroit’s state-appointed emergency financial manager Robert Bobb has
not resolved the budget deficit of the public school system. Since Bobb’s
appointment in 2009, the Detroit public school system has sunk another $100
million into debt.
A court challenge on behalf of the elected school board, parents, teachers
and community organizations won a preliminary injunction in Wayne County
Circuit Court against the closing of 45 schools in the district. It also halted
numerous policies proposed by Bobb that would further privatize the system and
weaken local control.
But this injunction was overturned by the Michigan Court of Appeals. It
ruled within several hours after the hearing that the Detroit Board of
Education did not show that any irreparable harm would be done if Bobb
implemented the plans for school closings and downsizing. The appeal to
overturn the injunction was litigated by Republican Attorney General Mike Cox,
who argued on behalf of Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Granholm had
appointed Bobb to gut Detroit’s public schools.
The political significance of this episode in the struggle over the future
of public education in Detroit is that both the Democratic and Republican
parties held identical positions, siding with state and private interests over
the right of the people in a majority African-American city to run their school
Private groups such as the Skillman Foundation are playing significant roles
in drafting and promoting corporate-oriented plans to remold and liquidate
public education in favor of charter schools for profit.
In another issue related to law enforcement, the U.S. Justice Department has
not responded to demands by the Muslim community and its supporters for an
investigation into the assassination of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah, who was
shot 20 times by FBI agents on Oct. 28. Abdullah and several followers and
family members had been lured to a warehouse in neighboring Dearborn under the
guise of unloading merchandise from a truck.
On May 15, a group of inter-faith religious leaders announced they were
sending a letter to President Barack Obama demanding he direct Attorney General
Eric Holder to address the concerns of the Muslim community and others
regarding the imam’s unprovoked killing and the subsequent prosecution of
a number of his family members and followers.
On May 17 Holder spoke at Wayne State University Law School. Members of the
DCAPB and the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice held a
demonstration there demanding an end to police terror against the people of
The protest drew attention to the killing of Aiyana Jones and also raised
other issues concerning the lack of implementation of two federal consent
decrees regarding use of lethal force and detention facilities within the
Detroit Police Department. Detroit cops have been under a federally appointed
monitor for nearly seven years, after a three-year investigation by the U.S.
Justice Department. However, police brutality and misconduct continue.
Plans are underway to do further outreach in the community where Aiyana
Jones was killed. Brenda Cowans, who lives in the neighborhood where the police
raid took place, attended the demonstration outside the WSU Law School and
welcomed interest by MECAWI to work with the community to combat police
brutality in the area.
“We must speak out and fight injustice because otherwise we will be
misused by the system,” said Cowans.