Category Archives: Ypsilanti

Ypsi cops to wear body cameras; Chris Rock interview raises a couple of interesting points to share here

This is kind of a tangent post (as I really try to keep this site pretty squarely about EMU most of the time), but given some of the conversation/campus events lately, I thought I’d go ahead and point these things out.

First, it turns out that “Ypsilanti police will be wearing body cameras by March.” This story is from mLive, but I’ve heard about it on NPR too. I believe Ypsi is the first place in Michigan where this is happening. No one should kid themselves into thinking that this is going to “solve” the problem of police shootings like what happened in Ferguson, but a) if Darren Wilson had been wearing a body camera, I think we would have had at least some additional evidence about what happened when Michael Brown was killed, and b) when cops have had to wear body cameras (notably in California), incidents of police brutality/shootings went down like 80% (though I don’t have that citation on that one right in front of me or anything).

Second, there’s a great interview of Chris Rock making the rounds now that is totally worth reading even if you are only sorta/kinda a fan. One loyal reader suggested I share it because of what he had to say about college campuses:

What do you make of the attempt to bar Bill Maher from speaking at Berkeley for his riff on Muslims?

Well, I love Bill, but I stopped playing colleges, and the reason is because they’re way too conservative.

In their political views?

Not in their political views—not like they’re voting Republican—but in their social views and their willingness not to offend anybody. Kids raised on a culture of “We’re not going to keep score in the game because we don’t want anybody to lose.” Or just ignoring race to a fault. You can’t say “the black kid over there.” No, it’s “the guy with the red shoes.” You can’t even be offensive on your way to being inoffensive.

When did you start to notice this?

About eight years ago. Probably a couple of tours ago. It was just like, This is not as much fun as it used to be. I remember talking to George Carlin before he died and him saying the exact same thing.

I think he kind of has a point, though I personally think Maher’s “riff on Muslims” was pretty ignorant.

Then there’s also a longer (too long for me to just cut and paste) and interesting take on the mess in Ferguson. Among other things, Chris Rock says if he was reporting on it, he’s interview white people because “We know how black people feel about Ferguson.” Smart stuff.

Any midterm election thoughts?

I don’t have a lot of them, frankly. I think this has been a pretty non-event midterm elections.

As this piece from Addicting Info I came across on Facebook points out, the Republicans who have now won control of both the Senate and the House need to be careful what they wished for since it’s a lot harder to lead than it is to complain. Besides, the president’s party has always lost control of Congress in midterm elections since FDR.

I was a little disappointed that the Snyder-Schauer race wasn’t closer, but it is what it is. Given that Michigan government has been controlled by Republicans at all levels for a while now, I don’t see a whole lot of changes to higher ed issues in the state. And on the up-side, Terri Lynn Land got crushed, there were lots of progressive causes that did pass around the U.S. (minimum wage, legalizing pot, etc.).

I guess it’s also cool that (as mLive reported) “Nicole Brown elected to represent Ypsilanti’s First Ward in landslide victory.” I didn’t really know anything about Brown until this article, but she’s a 26 year old with essentially no previous experience. Frankly, I think given the state of affairs in Ypsilanti– hanging on the edge of financial solvency, for example– it might not be a bad idea to get some young people/fresh blood in there. And if “these kids” Nicole Brown and new mayor Amanda Edmonds drive this Ypsi bus into the ditch, well, then the old guard will have the pleasure of saying “I told ya so.”

“5 Local Blogs You Need To Be Reading”

Via Mark Maynard’s blog I came across this nice little piece in the local online magazine/site Concentrate, “5 Local Blogs You Need To Be Reading.” I of course knew/know about Mark’s site and Damn Arbor, but I didn’t know anything about the other ones. I had no idea that Juan Cole’s blog/site got over 600,000 views a month. Anyway, go check them out.

By the way, just in case you’re curious: EMUTalk gets on average somewhere around 7,000 hits a month, but it varies a lot depending on the time of the year. In the midst of the school year and if there’s something going on, it’s more like 10,000-12,000, and sometimes a lot more; in the summer and/or when not much is happening, it’s more like 4,000-5,000.

What’s the deal with “Ypsi the Klown?”

I’ve seen a couple of articles– this one in The Echo, and this one from the Ypsilanti Courier (which is where the picture comes from)– about “Ypsi the Klown.” I saw a couple of fliers in Pray-Harrold advertising Ypsi the Klown for the Homecoming court (I assume he lost).

So, what’s the deal with this guy? And is he on campus much? I haven’t seen him yet, though I’m working a lot more from home this term, so maybe it’s just me.

“Ypsilanti City Council Member Susan Moeller resigns”

A sort of Ypsilanti and EMU story: from mLive, “Ypsilanti City Council Member Susan Moeller resigns.” I assume most regular readers know this, but Moeller is also the former president of the EMU-AAUP and I think she is currently the treasurer. A quote from the article:

“After much thought, I have decided that I need to resign my position on the city council for personal reasons. The care of my elderly parents and a bedridden aunt requires too much of my time and attention,” Moeller wrote. “I believe someone else from Ward 2 would be better able to represent the residents as I am not able at this time to give the position proper attention.

“I enjoyed working with all of you and wish you all the best in the coming year.”

“Ypsilanti Jimmy John’s among 216 stores affected by security breach”

In local/near campus sandwich news, “Ypsilanti Jimmy John’s among 216 stores affected by security breach.” So if you used a credit card to get yourself a sandwich and a bag of chips back in June and July, you might want to check your statement.

“Police: Ski pole brandished as weapon during fight near EMU campus”

From mLive comes “Police: Ski pole brandished as weapon during fight near EMU campus.” I always love these kinds of headlines.

A customer at a party store near Eastern Michigan University’s campus was so upset over a bottle return dispute he went out to his car and grabbed a ski pole to use as a weapon Thursday, police said.

The clerk at the Kampus Korner, located 819 N. Huron St., Ypsilanti, went to grab a baseball bat.

The two squared off in the parking lot with their respective weapons until EMU police officers on patrol broke up the fight, according to Chief Bob Heighes.

Bat beats ski pole every time.

Ypsilanti Heritage Festival this weekend

I just found out that this weekend is the annual Ypsilanti Heritage Festival.  Check out their web site.

I’m not a big fan one way or the other of the Heritage Festival– it seems to me like it’s still seeking some kind of unifying theme. But jeez, they sure could do a better job of promoting this thing. I found out about it in the “things to do around town this weekend” blurb on mLive.

Wrapping up the Demarius Reed murder trial while the Julia Niswender homicide is still under investigation

The murder trial for Demarius Reed is wrapping up/has wrapped up. This article from mLive, “Demarius Reed’s killer: ‘He fell to the ground and I shot him,'” sums up what’s happened I think. As I understand it, the person who actually pulled the trigger in killing Reed, Kristopher Pratt, took a plea bargain where he could be out of prison in 18 years instead of life. In exchange, he agreed to testify against Ed Thomas, the other guy charged with the murder. One thing I don’t quite get is it seems possible that the guy who did the actual shooting might end up serving less time in jail than the accomplice.

Also in disturbing news about the trial and testimony is this from the Ypsilanti Courier, Gunman testifies during second day of Demarius Reed murder trial.” In my view, this is a case where the reporter really buried the lead. This article also recounts the testimony from Pratt, but then it has this near the end:

Detective Joe Yuhas, of the Ypsilanti Police Department, also took the stand during Thursday’s court session. Yuhas was the officer in charge of Reed’s homicide investigation last year.

During Brown’s cross-examination, Yuhas admitted telling Thomas during a previous conversation that the investigation was under a lot of pressure due to an unusual amount of media attention. Yuhas confirmed under oath that the Ypsilanti Police had been contacted by out-of-state news outlets including the Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald, TMZ and MTV.

“I did say, regrettably, that if it was just a nobody EMU student, we wouldn’t have put this many resources into the investigation,” Yuhas said Thursday.

A nobody EMU student. Yikes.

You know, the Ypsi Proud faithful took great offense for EMU BOR member Francine Parker’s comment last year about building a moat around campus to protect it from Ypsilanti. But with bullshitty admissions like Yuhas’, that “nobody” EMU students don’t get the same level of police protection and interest from the city, maybe Parker was right.

Speaking of which: there is also this in mLive, “Julia Niswender’s mother frustrated with lack of progress in homicide case.”  A quote from that piece:

A year before Reed was killed, 23-year-old Julia Niswender was found dead in the bathtub at her apartment in Peninsular Place, the complex adjacent to Reed’s along LeForge Road in Ypsilanti.

Despite almost two years having passed, no one has been arrested and police say they’ve exhausted nearly all their leads.

[Nieswender’s mother Kimberly] Turnquist said she is very frustrated that the case is still hanging out there and believes police could be doing more.

“There is absolutely no new update,” she said Friday. “I’m frustrated with the lack of time that is put into Julia’s case.”

One the one hand, the circumstances surrounding Nieswender’s homicide seem a lot more complicated than the Reed murder. On the other hand, Detective Yuhas’ comment doesn’t exactly seem at odds with with Turnquist’s argument.

Watch your step traveling Ypsilanti Saturday morning or someone will throw colored corn starch at you

As mLive reminded me, the annual “Color Run” is coming to downtown Ypsilanti Saturday morning. Here’s a link to the Color Run Inc. page for the event in Ypsi.  The race/event starts at 8 am, snakes around Depot Town, along the river, and the east side of campus. Apparently there are 14,000 people registered for it, so unless you are planning on running yourself, tomorrow is probably not a good day to come to Ypsilanti.

If this is the kind of event that makes people feel like they are one with the universe and celebrating their YOLO spirit or whatever, that’s fine, I guess. I assume it’s good for local Ypsi businesses, especially those that serve breakfast and lunch, I’m guessing. But just to be clear: it’s as much of a charity as Chevrolet or Nike (which also donates money to food banks and the like) and that colored starch “mostly” comes out in the wash.