City Council Poem by Julie Quiroz

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In addition to the post I wrote yesterday, I’d also like to share a poem written by Julie Quiroz. Julie Quiroz organizes with Transforming Justice Washtenaw, one of the communities most active in advocating for a Police Oversight Commission in Ann Arbor.

I find her words to be beautiful and deeply moving.

CITY COUNCIL POEM

Mr. Mayor

Last night I sat in the front row
on my stainless steel framed chair
craning my neck around one of those brick columns
that blocks everyone’s view
in the chambers you restructured
after too much anger
got in.

I count on my fingers
one two three times
I’ve heard your talk
on white supremacy
and police.

But this time you wince.
Your voice is strained
and I wonder if you too long
for a new script.

You speak in generalities
“our nation’s history”
“implicit bias”
a concise conceptual overview
a preamble to the heart
of your story.

Now you paint a picture:
a police officer after a long hard day
coming home
so tired, to sleep.

Human.

Mr. Mayor
I stand always with humanity
I’ve seen enough violence to know
that ugliness is never a controlled burn
the thrown brick
hits the infant’s head
viciousness
sickens its source

But Mr. Mayor
where in your story are the people I know?

Where is the 16 year old who comes home
so tired
so humiliated
after AAPD stopped him on his bike
sure this black teenager was carrying drugs?

Where is the mother on her front yard
facing an AAPD gun
because a black women couldn’t possibly
be a homeowner?

Where is the high school senior
sleepless with fear
that his merit scholarship is gone
because AAPD arrested a Latino
instead of calling his parents
because he held a beer
at a football game?

Human.

The people I know are strong
and kind.
We lead and nurture and create.
We do not need “more guidance” from you.
Power is our legacy
passed down from our grandmothers
who always found a way.

Mr. Mayor
I did not speak at city council
Because 3 minutes cannot contain
my grief

Mr. Mayor
you are right
our humanity is at stake
it is the only prayer I have
that my daughter will have water to drink
after I am gone

So I ask you
Mr. Mayor
please
with particularity
tell me

Why are AAPD the only humans
in your story?

-Julie Quiroz

3 thoughts on “City Council Poem by Julie Quiroz

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