Ypsilanti, Michigan, is a city that has made national news of late. The tragedy of the beating of Sha’Teina Grady El, the commentary from former mayor Beth Bashert, the threats to residents at Sycamore Meadows and questionable charges made by the Washtenaw County Prosecutor Brian Mackie has led the small city that sits 15 minutes outside of Ann Arbor, Michigan the topic of controversy. While Ann Arbor is praised as having the highest level of education of any city in the United States, Ypsilanti has not been afforded the same respect on Google. In greater detail, we spoke to several lawyers that are very involved in the Ypsilanti community.
Matthew McManus is the Managing Member of McManus and Amadeo in Washtenaw County, Michigan. He is known as one of the top researchers in the state. McManus spoke of the criminal issues when he said, “When Bill (Amadeo) took on the Grady El case, we were confused as to why they were being charged in the first place. It was clear that the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Officer almost killed Sha’Teina. We thought things were under control after the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office furthered the case. Still, as you study the situation further, the Grady El case was just one of many tragedies in Ypsilanti. It’s regrettable to see how people are treated in our judicial system based upon skin tone’s socioeconomic status. The comments made by Mayor Bashert in the wake of this tragedy was also surprising.”
Jennifer Kelley is a Senior Associate for McManus and Amadeo. She is known as one of the top divorce attorneys across Michigan. Kelley stated, “After the mayor made her comments (insert), our phones were ringing off the wall. We started studying cases coming out of Ypsilanti and saw there was clear mistreatment of those residents. We are working to rectify this situation.”
William Amadeo is a partner at McManus and Amadeo and is known as one of the top criminal lawyers in Michigan. Amadeo, who represents the Grady El family, was quoted as saying, “What is going on in Ypsi? I see prosecutors threatening to amend charges without justification to incarcerate young black men. I see Sha’Teina beaten, Dan (Grady El) tasered, and the Washtenaw Sheriff’s Department requested charges against them? Sycamore Meadows is threatened with evictions during a national pandemic. Beth Bashert made racist comments in a public forum. We all have to do our part. I’m grateful that we have leaders like Trische’ Duckworth, Nate Frazier, and Valerie Kelley-Bonner. Fixing these problems will not be a quick fix, but it will be a fix, count on it. I cannot tell you how many late-night conversations I have had with Nancy (Eaton-Gordon) on correcting these issues.”
Nancy Eaton-Gordon is a partner at Jackson Eaton-Gordon in Lenawee, Michigan. Known as one of the top lawyers in her county., Eaton-Gordon added, “We are in difficult times. It starts with leadership from the top, and it spreads down. I have never seen as much social unrest in my lifetime. As officers of the court, we need to work to fix issues such as Ypsilanti’s problems. We need to work as a team to correct these problems, and we need to do it fast.”
While the problems in Ypsilanti, Michigan, have gone on for far too long, the COVID-19 pandemic has magnified a tragic situation. Prosecutors, police officers, defense lawyers, judges, and probation officers need to collaborate and think of solutions to protect our judicial system and our citizens.