By Sam Dupree
On April 19, Ann Arbor resident Jose Luis Sanchez-Ronquillo was apprehended by immigration officers while attending one of his required immigration meetings. Sanchez-Ronquillo, who entered the U.S. illegally, had been living here for almost 20 years, with his wife and two sons who attend Ann Arbor Public Schools. Sanchez-Ronquillo has no criminal record, yet had been held in a Louisiana prison for over a month since being picked up by I.C.E. The day after a visit to Pioneer by his supporters, Sanchez-Ronquillo’s pending deportation was delayed indefinitely by a U.S. District Court judge in Detroit.
On Monday, May 15, Sanchez-Ronquillo’s wife, along with his lead attorney, visited Pioneer’s Little Theatre to encourage students to rally at a Detroit court hearing for his release. Shanta Driver, Sanchez-Ronquillo’s lead attorney, told students about his life in the United States. “Jose has been in the U.S. almost 20 years,” said Driver. “He’s worked, paid taxes, and never committed a crime.”
Driver said that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (I.C.E) made a deal with Sanchez-Ronquillo. They told him that if he attended his monthly check-ins, and didn’t get into legal trouble, he could eventually earn legal residence. Trump Administration policies, however, forced I.C.E to break that deal, Driver said. When Sanchez-Ronquillo went to one of his scheduled check-in meetings he was arrested.
“This is an ideological policy of ethnic cleansing.” said Driver. “Trump has proved he is lawless.”
Sanchez-Ronquillo’s wife also addressed the students. Through a translator, she revealed that both of her children, one a freshman at Pioneer, one a student at Bach Elementary, have had an extremely traumatic time during this experience. “Jose’s only crime ever was being undocumented,” said his wife.
Pioneer senior Bairton Brown feels particularly strongly about this issue because of Sanchez-Ronquillo’s young elementary school child. “I think it’s vindictive to deport these people who haven’t committed a crime,” he said, “whose families help enrich our culture.”
Pioneer junior Jessie Gott also attended the event. “You see this stuff on the news and you hear about it secondhand,” said Gott, “but it’s much more personal when you hear it in person from people who are currently in this fight.”
Permission slips for students to ride a bus to Detroit for a rally at the Sanchez-Ronquillo deportation hearing were passed out.
Driver called for President Trump’s resignation. “He needs to go, he needs to resign, he needs to be forced out of office,” she said.
Before the presenters headed onto their next school, they left students with a warning: advise any illegal immigrants that if they get a call to go check in at I.C.E, they shouldn’t go.
By Bess Markel
Be Bold, be extraordinary, be a pioneer. Most students pass those words many times throughout the school day when walking through C-hall. While that may seem like a lofty goal to many students, the Pioneer administration works to make Pioneer the most rigorous and academically challenging place it can be. A new U.S. News and World Report high school ranking has ranked Pioneer as the 8th best school in Michigan. Superintendent Jeanice Swift is extremely proud of Pioneer’s ranking, because she feels that it speaks to progress and growth for Pioneer. “Just 2 years ago, Pioneer was at 20th place in this same national analysis,” says Swift.
Pioneer is not the only Ann Arbor Public School that did well in the U.S. News ranking. Skyline High School ranked 15th in Michigan, Huron High School ranked 29th, and Community High School ranked 64th, out of the approximately 849 high schools in the state of Michigan. Pioneer, Skyline, Community, and Huron are all considered national silver medal schools by the U.S. News Rankings. Swift feels that this achievement shows the AAPS Community's dedication to high quality education. “This achievement continues a trend of Ann Arbor Public Schools high schools medaling in this rigorous national comparative assessment of high school programs.”
There are several factors that go into ranking the schools. U.S news evaluated approximately 849 public high schools in Michigan to determine their college readiness; they take into consideration the percentage of students taking AP classes, the percentage of students who passed the AP tests (to pass a student must get a 3 or higher) as well as mathematics proficiency and english proficiency. The last two data points are collected from standardized testing. 61% of Pioneer students are considered proficient in math and 68% are considered proficient in reading. These scores are higher than the Ann Arbor Public School District and State of Michigan averages. Pioneer received a total college readiness score of 54.2 out of 100 and was ranked the 556 best Public School in the country.
Both Dr. Swift and Principle Lowder feel that the AAPS staff’s commitment to education and to their students have helped make Pioneer a great place to learn. Swift, in a thank you note to the staff, said “Thank you for your caring, commitment and exceptional work on behalf of our Pioneer students and community!” Lowder also feels that this teachers have done incredible work. “It’s good to know that the work we are doing is positive. We recognize we still have work to do and we still want to improve. But it’s good to know the things we are doing to service our students seem to be working.”
While this ranking is a great accomplishment, like all ranking systems, there are some flaws in the U.S. News’s ranking operation. When calculating the college readiness score, U.S News does not into take into consideration many factors, such as percentage of students below the poverty line, or the percentage of students at the school who speak English as a second language. Standardized testing is not the perfect measure of student body intelligence, as many students are put at a disadvantage due to external factors. Not to mention, some students do not take AP tests because they cannot afford to take them. Long term Pioneer teacher and History Chairman Jen Kunec feels the ranking does ignore certain factors. “Every publication has a different formula, and not one of those formulas include socioeconomic status. I think being at the top with a diverse population is what makes Pioneer different from a lot of those other schools,” says Kunec. While Kunec feels that certain others schools that are ranked highly benefit from these not all inclusive rankings, she thinks Pioneer would still do well no matter the ranking factors. “What’s so astounding about all this is if you look at the high schools ahead of us they are not as diverse, economically, socially, ethnically, and racially. I think that’s what makes us stand out,” says Kunec. Kunec believes Pioneer’s wide range of opportunities work to help all students and not just the naturally academic achieving ones. “We do so much because we want all of our kids to improve. The Learning Center is one example of that. At Pioneer, it’s not just about the top students– that’s why I think if there were rankings based on a formula that didn’t just include test scores, I think we’d still do very well.”
By Bess Markel
With the retirement of longtime Pioneer Theater Guild leader Susan Hurwitz, Principal Tracey Lowder and the district are looking to make changes to the Performing Arts Program that may mean exciting new classes for students.
One of Lowder’s main ideas is adding classes during the school day that would focus more on technical theater. “I’d like to see some courses added to our curriculum for what we do with the Performance Arts,” said Lowder. This is part of a larger goal of Lowder’s to expand the Visual Art Program. “I’d like to see us expand on what we have and see what else we can offer our students that will help them expand their interests in what they really want to get done as they prepare for their next step,” he said.
Pioneer currently does not have an official drama department or many classes that fall under the Dramatic Art realm. Lowder recognizes this, saying that “We have Acting 1 and Acting 2, and those classes are going well, but we [would] like to expand upon those.” However, no one is quite sure what the expansion should look like.
Many theater students are excited at the prospect of change and growth, but appreciate the acting program that exists at Pioneer. “The acting class at Pioneer is a great class where you can be yourself and meet a lot of great people. It also serves as a great introduction to the world of theater,” says Junior J.C. Champagne. Champagne also feels that part of what makes Pioneer’s acting class great is the teacher: Mr. Sabo, “He encourages us to be unique and truthful to how we interpret the character, allowing us to think more creatively and artistically,” Champagne said. Still, Champagne would love to see the acting program grow at Pioneer, building off the program that already exists.
There has been talk of adding stagecraft classes, in which students learn the basics of lighting, sound, construction, and prop design. There has also been discussion of adding more acting classes that specialize in musical theater. However, Lowder said he has no official plans for what changes will be made. “I’m not sure what it becomes or what that looks like, but we want to make Theater Guild more powerful than it already is,” he said.
Jacqulin Stauder, a Pioneer grad and current sophomore in Eastern Michigan University’s theater program, first realized she wanted to go into theater while working on sets crew for a PTG show. Stauder said that “It would have been wonderful to have been able to take a class about something I truly cared about,” while in theater at Pioneer. Lowder also sees merit in exposing kids to the technical side of theater. “Somebody has to build sets and props for all the shows we do, and I’d like to figure out how we, from a curriculum based standpoint, [could] offer some of these classes,” he said.
With such a strong theater program, Stauder added that it’s only natural that students might decide they want to go into theater professionally. These classes give students a chance to explore many aspects of theater that they might not have learned about by doing shows at Pioneer. “I wish I had had the chance to learn more about all the aspects of theater [in high school]. There is so much that goes into it and I only learned one part,” she said.
Lowder says these proposed curriculum additions are just another way for students to explore. “The more opportunities you can provide for students, then the more things they can experiment with and figure out what they are good at,” he said. Not everyone excels in the traditional classroom, but Lowder says it is Pioneer’s job to educate and provide opportunities for all students, even if traditional learning is not their strong suit. “Everyone is not gifted in the same way, but everyone has a gift, and the more experiences we can provide for students, the more opportunities [there will be] for them to figure out what those gifts are,” he said.
By Gabriel Gurulé
Opiate abuse — which includes such drugs as heroin and oxycontin — has gotten so bad that St. Joseph Mercy Hospital sees up to 10 overdoses a week and all Washtenaw County Sheriff deputies now carry Narcan, a drug that reverses overdoses.
“Since August 2015, [the sheriff deputies] have been carrying Narcan,” said Sheriff’s office outreach worker Ashton Marr. Marr is one of the eight former addicts or felons who work in the Sheriff’s office as an outreach worker in order to fight addiction and foster better connections within Washtenaw county. She has been with the program for nearly two years.
“We are from the communities we serve. We’re helping to run Washtenaw Recovery Advocate Project,” said Marr, addressing the importance of the outreach program. “We try to connect people to community resources.”
By having former addicts educate high school students and assist the county at large, the Sheriff’s Office hopes to fight the rising opiate addiction rates. “We need people to understand why they should care…[and] to continue to educate. Through that, a lot has begun to change,” said Marr.
Indeed, among teens, opiate drug use has been on the decline, according to a 2016 survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which found a 45 percent drop in usage among high school seniors in the past five years. Still, in December a new Michigan law allowed schools to have the overdose reversal drug on hand if they choose to.
Opiates have long been utilized medically and abused recreationally in the U.S., but never near the current magnitude. After the Civil War, many veterans came home addicted to the morphine used to treat their wounds. However, that addiction rate is nothing compared to what it is today. In 2016, 44% of people said they know a prescription painkiller addict, according to the National Council of Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.
In Michigan, overdose deaths related to heroin and opioid use rose from 99 in 1999 to 1,001 in 2014, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. In Washtenaw County, the number of overdose deaths rose from nine to 65 over the same period.
Opiates are drugs derived from the Opium Poppy plant. When used medically, they are very effective in treating pain; when abused recreationally, they are used for a sense of euphoria and a quick high, yet they are highly addictive. Opiate addiction has always been a problem, but within the last 10 years, prescription painkiller abuse has grown.
Many addicts get pills like Oxycontin, a brand of oxycodone, from friends and even family — whoever has a prescription.
This increased availability of opiates has caused a strain on hospitals in the community. “We see typically five to 10 overdose [patients] a month,” said Dr. Greg Pappas of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chelsea, as well as the Saint Joseph’s in Ann Arbor. “We see a lot of heroin and opiate overdoses,” he added. As an emergency room physician, he treats any opiate overdose case that comes in primarily with naloxone, better known as Narcan. “Narcan completely reverses overdoses. It causes opiates to not be able to bind in the body. Evidence shows it has no risk — I’ve never seen an allergy (to it),” he said.
Outside of the county, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder created the Michigan Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Commission. One reform the group sought is the “Good Samaritan Law.” Typically, drug abusers are afraid to call police during overdoses because they’re afraid of being prosecuted for having controlled substances. The Good Samaritan Law changes that by protecting substance abusers from legal threats who call the police during a medical emergency.
“The important thing is to save a life,” says Marr.
By Yuchen Yang
Pioneer students may have recently noticed a row of brand new, glimmering plaques illuminated in the hallway by the flagpole entrance, and fresh purple paint on the wall above the doors of Schreiber Auditorium. These new additions are parts of the Pioneer High School Hall of Honor, a project that has already been 10 years in the making.
The Hall of Honor was first started by former Pioneer Athletic Director and Assistant Principal Lorin Cartwright. “I started in 1997 — the athletic hall of fame,” said Mrs. Cartwright. “I said: ‘Who’s gonna honor the high quality individuals that are out there that were not athletes, and they have brought so much attention to the school based on their accolade?’ So, I conceived that idea [of the Hall of Honor] then.”
The project was then, in part, a secret. It was only known among the administrators and Pioneer English teacher Betsy VanderZee’s yearbook class. It was her yearbook class that worked on the plaques. “My kids typed the captions up,” said Mrs. VanderZee, “and made the background for the plaques after we finished the yearbook.”
But soon after, the project got stalled. “Some of them [the plaques] got finished — maybe half of them got finished, and then others didn’t get finished, but because it was close to the end of the school year, the class was not able to update those,” said Cartwright, “and when I retired, the project got waylaid.”
For years, the project was not heard of. The spot designated for the honourees, a former gymnastics room, was turned into the cafeteria annex as we know today. The plaques for the honourees laid untouched for 10 years.
In Cartwright’s mind, however, the dream of a Hall of Honour never died. She always wanted a wall to serve as an inspiration for Pioneer students. “[I want it to] show other people, students very specifically, [that] you, coming out of Pioneer High School, can aspire to be whatever you want to be,” said Cartwright. “I want people to be inspired to be the next person on that wall.” It is not only a motivator for the students and a monument to the students who came before. It is also “a testimony to the quality of education that comes out of Pioneer High School,” says Cartwright. “When you go to school at Pioneer High School, the teachers and the staff there will give you the skill set you need to be very successful in life.”
To build this monument for the inspiration of students and honor of the teachers at Pioneer, Cartwright put in a large amount of work to reconnect the alumni network.
During her years as the athletic director, Cartwright used bimonthly alumni newsletters to get nominations for the Wall of Fame, and contacted all of the candidates she could. “My heart is at Pioneer High School. I worked there for 32 years, so I want Pioneer to continue to be bigger and better than it ever has been,” said Cartwright. So, four years after retirement, she picked up the project again.
One of the alumni on the wall anonymously donated $10,000 to fund the project. Cartwright hired a graphic artist to finish the plaques, and after Principal Lowder had given the permission that was not granted to the project due to frequent turnovers of previous administrations, the Hall of Honor was finally constructed. Now on the wall of A-Hall, students can see the civil engineer James Baird, who was in charge of the construction of the Flatiron Building, magician Franz Harary, who designed grand illusions for Michael Jackson, and so many other famous alumni who Pioneer students may not have known went to their school.
“I never thought I would see them [the plaques] up on the wall,” said Mrs. VanderZee, who is delighted to hear that this once lost project is carried out. “It was really nice and neat to see the project being done.”
Now, Cartwright has her eyes on even more projects she is doing for Pioneer. “I also want to clean up the trophy cases, to make them look shiny again!” said Cartwright.
By Morgan Conlin
Each day thousands of teenagers across Michigan will spend around eight hours sitting in a desk at school. Not many Pioneer students know that the graduation requirements have changed. According to the updated requirements, credit is given “not based on seat time, but based on a students demonstration that he or she has successfully met the content expectations for the credit area”. Now, students are able to pass a core curriculum class by only showing up to take the state required exam.
Many students are unaware of this alternative way of learning that could be beneficial for them. Rephael Berkooz a senior at Pioneer high school says “ I didn’t even know of this law until it was mentioned today.” Other styles of learning this bill include; work-based learning programs which allows a student to work side by side with professionals of the career they are interested in, project-based learning is a method in which students spend a big amount of time studying one specific problem and analysis every aspect of the situation, independent teacher-guided study, or testing out. The bill allows students to not show up for the classroom part of school but only for the actual assessment given by the state.
This law could be helpful for teens that at get anxiety and stress about schoolwork and other responsibilities. “Honestly most of those kids [who would do that] are probably school phobic” says Colleen Creal, head of Pioneer’s Counseling Department. “I think the bill is good for people who might have a medical condition that prevents them from going to school.” says Berkooz. It’s no shock to find that 36% of high schoolers are feeling overwhelmed from school and that 31% feel stressed out from school. “If a kid doesn’t really want to be at Pioneer, then they [will] probably look at an online option, or something at the community college can be more flexible, because Pioneer doesn’t really work for everyone” explains Creal.
Many college admission counselors do not like this option because they believe it takes away from the social aspects of high school such as sports, clubs, and music. Students also learn lifelong skills including getting along with others, working in groups, and making friends. Pioneer senior Henry Huang disagrees with this idea “I agree that school is a social environment, and that you do learn some of your softer skills that you use for the rest of your life, however there are other environments outside of school where you can learn those skills. I believe that a school environment should still be primarily based off of furthering your own education.” Rephael Berkooz thinks that if a teen doesn’t go to school, it can take away from some great experiences. “Going to public school has significantly influenced by social behavior; I can’t imagine every student who actively avoids other teens has had the same social growth as I did.” says Berkooz.
By Yuchen Yang
The new SAT last spring had the miraculous effect of giving teens and parents chills, for some probably more so than a pit of snakes and spiders. But Pioneer students may find some relief in learning that this school had the highest SAT scores in the district last year.
The class of 2017 took the redesigned SAT and their scores ranked Pioneer 11th in the state, higher than any other school in the Ann Arbor Public Schools district. With an average score of 1175.7, more than 80 percent of the senior class are on track for college readiness for reading and writing and 67 percent for math, according to the color-coded score ranges and bench marks set up by the College Board.
The new SAT was released in the spring of 2016 with changes to the content of the test and question formats to better predict the college readiness of students. Important changes made in the redesigned test included the deletion of penalties for guessing and the new optional analytical essay, which will ask students to analyze a given passage instead of arguing a stance on a given issue. The College Board also added more historically significant documents to the reading and stopped testing students on rarely used vocabulary, which was a pain for a lot of high school students in the past, especially after a year of AP U.S. History.
Pioneer students seem to have coped with the new test pretty well. “Pioneer typically does very well on these standardized tests, in comparison to the nation,” says Assistant Principal Kevin Hudson. “Most of our students, this past year with the new SAT, they went up in their scores.”
Assistant Principal Jason Skiba attributes parts of this success to the teachers of Pioneer, “Honestly, good teaching is the best test prep you could have,” Skiba says. “Good teaching just happens here naturally.”
Beside the teaching students get everyday, there are other resources available to SAT takers. “Khan Academy was one of the big ones,” says Skiba, “and we have computers in the media center designated specifically for SAT and PSAT prep.” Skiba adds that some of the preparation does have to come from students, for example, the results of the PSAT 9 and PSAT 10 have been sent home for students and families to use as a reference for future planning.
“The juniors will be taking the PSAT/NMSQT. Those results juniors should be able to use to prepare, as well, what areas they need to work on, to get ready for the SAT in April,” says Skiba. These test results, including PSAT 9 and 10, are sent to the students so the freshmen and sophomores can see where their weak spots are, what they need to study and work on, whether in school and outside with formal test prep, including Khan Academy.
The school is clear on what it needs to work on as well. “The teachers are making themselves available at lunch times, before school and after school,” says Hudson. “I’m sure you have heard about the after school program as well.” This is the new Study Center in the cafeteria annex that provides a study environment and tutorial services from teachers and students.
“There’s a lot that we need to work on that we know as a district,” says Hudson. In this past year, despite the overall growth in test scores, the performances of students with low socioeconomic status stayed pretty plateaued. He says the teachers are being more sensitive in general, and especially to students with low SES to help them.
The school is also encouraging students to form study groups to go over class materials. “If (students) are able to articulate what they are learning then they will have no problems on the tests,” says Hudson.
As for the students in the class of 2018 who took the PSAT earlier this month and will take the SAT in less than six months, time management is the key word, says Skiba. “Create this plan so that you are not studying 18 hours a day, but at the same time you are not studying 18 minutes a day. It really comes to having that plan,” he says. “And allowing yourself the things that reduce your stress, scheduling times with friends, scheduling a time for social life, that’s all a part of the high school experience.”
In the end, the SAT is just one data point, but an important one. “So managing your time and having that plan is the best advice I could give,” says Skiba.
By Megan McLaughlin
Tucked away at the end of C-Hall in C-131 is a not very well-known class that meets first and fourth hours at Pioneer: Music Theory & Technology. This class is now entering its 27th semester, or 13th year, at Pioneer, after being established by Nancy Waring, associate director of bands and Music Theory & Technology teacher, in 2003. Music Theory & Technology, sometimes referred to as the “Beat Writing Class,” focuses on composing music in different types of styles and instrumentation, using software that includes Sibelius or Nightflight.
Unlike many performing arts classes at Pioneer, Music Theory & Technology requires no previous experience for students to enroll. The class allows many talented music students at Pioneer who might not care for the traditional band, orchestra or choir ensembles to excel in music.
“You get some people who have the band background or orchestra background, and you get other people who are into more mainstream music, because both of those things are inclusive in this electronic genre,” says sophomore Kelman Wolfkostin, who is currently enrolled in Music Theory & Technology. Wolfkostin agrees that the course is entirely separated from the traditional high school music options, stating that “you can go through band without knowing a lot of music theory, and you can do this without knowing how to play an instrument.…It’s very different”.
Music Theory & Technology provides an alternative option for students who prefer less structure than a large ensemble such as band, orchestra, or choir. “It’s definitely more freeform [than most music classes],” explains Wolfkostin, “with electronic music, you can make pretty much anything you want.”
The success of Music Theory & Technology as a class at Pioneer should be mainly attributed to Ms. Waring, the only teacher of the course throughout its tenure at Pioneer. “I proposed the class when I realized that we were not meeting a state and national standard of composing on electronic instruments,” says Waring. She proposed the course and developed the curriculum for Music Theory & Technology. The creation of the class has contributed to the diversity of Pioneer’s Music Department, which was named the top Music Department in the United States in 2006 and 2011 — shortly after Waring began submitting Music Theory & Technology compositions to the Grammy Foundation.
Waring’s hard work to make Music Theory & Technology an option for Pioneer students strengthened Pioneer’s Music Department, but also helped students find their passion. “Ms. Waring is the reason I am able to do what I am doing today. It was her guidance through high school, explanation of what is required to do music in college, and letter of recommendation that helped get me to where I am,” says Brian Young, Pioneer class of 2005 graduate. Young was enrolled in the first four semesters of Music Theory & Technology, and found that he enjoyed aspects of the course that he could not attain from being a percussionist in Pioneer’s band program. “I was in charge of every aspect of the piece and could play it as many or as few times as I wanted, with as many or few sounds as I wanted, anytime,” says Young. Since graduating from Pioneer and finishing Music Theory & Technology, Young has gone on to receive degrees from Eastern Michigan University and The University of Michigan in music, in part thanks to Ms. Waring and the Music Theory & Technology course, he says.
By Kevin Pai
As the issue of racism in policing continues to result in protests across the country, the Ann Arbor Police Department will undergo an audit to analyze its operations and determine if reforms are necessary in how the police engage with the community.
The audit came about as a result of recommendations by the city’s Human Rights Commission following the controversial shooting of Aura Rosser, a 40-year-old black woman who was shot by a white police officer responding to a domestic dispute after police say she charged at the officer armed with a knife. The shooting resulted in much community outcry, though the AAPD has maintained that the shooting was justified.
Still, the resulting controversy suggested a need for improved police-community relations. The AAPD also has been working with local Black Lives Matter leaders to organize safe, non-violent protests in Ann Arbor. blocking roads as well as escorting protesters.
“We pride ourselves on staying current with what’s going on in the nation in order to better serve our community. We are firm believers in open communication and have forged strong relationships with various community groups and organizations,” says Thomas Hickey, the community manager of the AAPD.
The AAPD has also created programs to educate youth such as a program addressing safe behavior when stopped by police. They also participate in a program called “Youth Connect” where officers have an open question and answer with convicted juveniles.
"Most of these juvenile offenders have not had a positive experience with the police. We are committing time to work with the ‘Youth Connect Program’ which involves face time with our officers and having an open dialogue,” says Hickey.
The audit will be complete by June 30, 2017 and will be looking for anything problematic in the AAPD such as racial discrimination in arrests.
Pioneer student and Black Student Union member Olivia Tinsley said she is skeptical that the audit will change anything.
“I think the audit would be supported by Black Lives Matter. Do I think things will change? Not really. They’d like us to believe there’s a good relationship now, but any person of color isn’t treated the same as a white person in Ann Arbor,” she said.
Black Lives Matter protests have been gaining traction after cases like Ferguson, Mo., where Michael Brown was shot and killed by white police officer Darren Wilson in August 2014. A grand jury did not indict Wilson, and a later U.S. Justice Department investigation found no civil rights volations. Since then numerous other police shootings have gotten widespread attention. Through social media like Twitter, BLM has been spreading its message of equality not just for African Americans, but for other minorities and the LGBTQ community.
“It has grown to be most prominent on Twitter as a way for people to show their support and spread the word on what’s going on and how to stop it; people are stronger in numbers,” says Tinsley.
BLM activists recently had a rally in Ann Arbor. The AAPD supported the rally by blocking roads and traffic. Tinsley said she believed the police of Washtenaw County were not a threat to the local BLM community, but that the group also does not use violence as a form of protest. “I would not say that Black Lives Matter is threatened by the police in Washtenaw county, as seen in previous marches this summer,” she said. “It seems to be in their interest to cooperate with BLM. But then again, we haven’t had a big uprising due to police brutality. If that were to happen I think the relationship definitely would change and we’d have a problem.”
Protests have been breaking out all over the country following police shootings, and reflect the anger and frustration that dwells within members of the BLM community and their supporters. Some protests have turned violent, something the Ann Arbor Police Department hopes to avoid with its stepped up efforts to more closely monitor police interactions with the community.
“We have a strong working relationship with the BLM event coordinators,” said the AAPD’s Hickey. “Our goal, as well as theirs, is to have a safe and non-violent protest. Open communication and transparency has helped form a strong working relationship even during tumultuous times.”