Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Kalamazoo, Michigan Mother Ignites Civil Rights Movement


November 3, 2006

Tina Guarino


Mobilizes March Against Social Injustices in Highly Segregated City

Terance Moore II, 17 year old college bound high school senior who was unjustly arrested by Kalamazoo Police officers after being profiled. His arrest has inspired a Civil Rights Movement across SW Michigan.

Kalamazoo, MI ( – When a 17-year-old college-bound senior opened his mail last week he had mixed emotions.
Terance Moore was happy to find his SAT admissions ticket, but distraught to find his notice to appear in court for an arrest he says should have never happened.

Today, the community at large agrees with him and that's why they marched over the weekend against racial profiling and the many, continued social injustices suffered by Kalamazoo's minority community.

His mother, Yolanda Neals, with the support of community-based organizations and local colleges organized a two-day march on Sunday, Nov. 5th and 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 6th. Sunday, residents marched seven times counterclockwise around the Kalamazoo Police Department in a gesture to reverse the current practices of the police and to end the systematic injustices. On Monday, they gathered at MLK Park on Rose Street and marched to City Hall to voice their frustrations at the City Commission Meeting. On Tuesday, Nov. 7th they urged voters to say "No" to Proposal 2, the highly reported referendum, which if passed, would end affirmative action in Michigan.

Terance's arrest experience on August 3rd was undeniably profiling as evidenced by the police's own recording of the incident, which ended in an unnecessary arrest. The teenager was on his way to take his grandmother to lunch, but before he could get to her, Kalamazoo Police stopped him on the north side of town. The police motor vehicle recorder (MVR) reveals the two white officers discussing the need to arrest him so that they could search his car.

During the incident, one of the police officers asked him for his cell phone, his social security number and whether or not he had a job. Terance was arrested for exercising his first and fourth amendment rights to say no to police when they asked him for his cell phone number. He was cuffed, his car was searched and he was taken to police headquarters to be booked for an excessive noise violation.

Ironically, Terance was stopped by police in front of Martin Luther King Jr. Park.

Terance is a high school senior at Kalamazoo Central High, whose goal is to attend Clark Atlanta University in Fall 2007 to study film. He has no prior criminal record nor run-ins with police officers.

Terance's story has liberated many mothers and young African-American males, the primary target in racial profiling cases, to come forward and share their stories, not in an effort to console, but rather in an effort to end a long-held practices by police.

"What truly disturbs me, is so many of our young, black males have become accustomed to the treatment they endure and fearful that any encounter with police will automatically end in a wrongful arrest, or worse, life-threatening violence," Ms. Neals said. "They feel hopeless because it has become so routine. What concerns me further is that white people, too, think this is just the way it is, the way it is supposed to be and we are here to say that it's not."

Group marches in protest of Kalamazoo police

Monday, November 6, 2006
By Jane C. Parikh 388-8558

Terance Moore should be focusing on college-entrance exams and the other rigors that come with his senior year at Kalamazoo Central High School.

Instead, the 17-year-old found himself among a group of about 30 people Sunday marching in a procession around Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety headquarters to protest his arrest in August for playing his car radio too loudly.

His mother, Yolonda Neals, says her son's arrest is a blatant case of racial profiling. The police department's initial investigation into the incident, however, said there is no evidence to support Neals' claims that her son was arrested because he's black.

``Since my son was arrested in August, I have become aware of similar cases where young men have been pulled over and searched and seized without reasonable cause,'' Neals said.

``They were all young black men.''

Moore, who plans to attend Atlanta's Clark Atlanta University in the fall to study film, said his arrest was disturbing.

``They said it was excessive noise, but I knew that wasn't the case,'' he said. ``I was in disbelief.''

Moore has received a notice to appear in court on the excessive-noise citation.

Department of Public Safety Deputy Chief Mike McCaw said he and Chief Dan Weston fully support ``anyone's right to free speech'' when asked this morning about Sunday's protest.

Moore said that before his arrest he had ``great'' trust in the police and thought they were there to protect ``all of us.'' Now, he said, he tries to keep a low profile and is very cautious about who he trusts.

Sunday's protest group gathered at the corner of Crosstown Parkway and South Burdick Street and began with a prayer before lining up two-by-two to walk seven times in a counter-clockwise direction around the perimeter of the public-safety headquarters.

Neals said the number seven is a divine spiritual number that can't be divided and broken up.

`We're here to make a spiritual statement,'' she said.

``We're walking counter-clockwise to reverse the negative energy, ill will and discrimination that takes place in the courts and the police department against the minority community on a daily basis.''

``All the money and power in the world is not stronger than God,'' Neals said.

Before starting, Neals told the crowd of mostly African-American residents to walk peacefully. ``We don't want to give them any reason to say we're too loud or disorderly,'' she said of the police.

As the group walked, members hummed ``Amazing Grace'' and sang ``We Shall Overcome.'' Many held signs urging people to vote against Proposal 2, which would bar public institutions in Michigan from using affirmative-action policies.

Rev. Edward Pinkney, of the Hopewell Church in Benton Harbor, said he was marching to let the people of Kalamazoo know that the residents of his community support them.

``There are a lot of injustices, and we have a history of not standing up,'' Pinkney said. ``If we let them (police) get away with it once, they'll do it again.''

Rev. Joseph Anderson, who is running for president of the Metropolitan Kalamazoo Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said, although there are many police officers who are good and honest, he was marching to urge those who are not to change their ways. ``We need change, we don't need conflict,'' Anderson said.

Neals has organized another march for 5 p.m. today from Martin Luther King Jr. Park on North Church Street to Kalamazoo City Hall. Several members of the group are expected to address the City Commission about racial problems in the community at its meeting tonight.

Kalamazoo Gazette

Race-bias complaints aired at City Hall Benton Harbor minister says injustice could spark unrest

Tuesday, November 7, 2006
By Kathy Jessup 388-8590

A Benton Harbor minister warned Monday that Kalamazoo could experience the type of racial unrest that has plagued his city if officials here fail to address racial concerns.

``You're not ready for an uprising here,'' the Rev. Edward Pinkney told the Kalamazoo City Commission.

``People (are) going to take just so much. You have a duty to serve and protect your citizens, not serve and kill, not serve and beat,'' said Pinkney, who joined a group of Kalamazoo residents raising claims of racial bias in law enforcement, local courts and medical care.

``These people are crying out for your help. It's time you make a move,'' the minister and Benton Harbor community activist said.

Several people at Monday's City Commission meeting called for the firing of Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Chief Dan Weston, alleging he has allowed some officers to profile people by race.

Weston did not respond Monday, but City Manager Kenneth Collard expressed continued confidence in the chief and noted that a citizen board is in place to examine complaints against the Department of Public Safety.

Yolanda Neals again Monday urged city officials to dismiss charges from the August arrest of her 17-year-old son, Terance Moore II. Public-safety officials said Moore was arrested because he was uncooperative and refused to give his cell-phone number after he was stopped for allegedly allowing excessive noise to come from his car. Moore said he is not required to provide such information as part of a traffic stop and was otherwise cooperative with officers.

Moore claims he was arrested because he is black.

An internal investigation by the department concluded Moore's arrest was warranted. However, one of the officers was reprimanded, officials said, because he did not have his voice and video recorder turned on during the incident, a violation of departmental procedure.

About 10 percent of noise violations in the city result in arrests, according to the Department of Public Safety.

Neals charged that Weston is ``condoning racial profiling and rampant discrimination practices against the minority community, especially against our young, black males.''

``And as far as I'm concerned, you city officials here are just as guilty as the chief of police if you continue to sit back and allow some of these Kalamazoo police officers to harass, intimidate, rob, abuse and discriminate against the minority community without taking action,'' Neals told commissioners.

Assistant City Manager Fay Peek said Monday that he will be meeting with the city's Citizen Public Safety Appeal and Review Board later this month to review Neals' complaint. Peek said that board may make recommendations on its findings but is not empowered to overturn an arrest.

Commissioners also referred a list of alleged civil rights violations to city staff for scrutiny. The ``demands for investigation'' were submitted by the Rev. Jerry McNeely, president of the Metropolitan Kalamazoo Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The Rev. Joseph Anderson, a candidate for the NAACP presidency in its election later this month, also addressed the commission Monday with claims his wife, because she is black, was not treated appropriately by physicians at a Kalamazoo hospital. As a result, she had a stroke that left her partially blind and paralyzed, Anderson said.

``I love you all, but justice has to be dealt right. Don't walk on my wife because she's black,'' he told commissioners. ``I continue to fight for my wife and other African-American women who go to the hospital and don't get adequate health care.''

City officials said after the meeting that they have no jurisdiction over physicians or hospitals, so they aren't in a position to address Anderson's complaints. Anderson did not name the physicians or hospital involved.

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