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Michigan United Criminal Justice Leaders Celebrate Kalamazoo Victory

Kalamazoo residents can now stand in front of their homes without the fear of being stopped or arrested by law enforcement thanks to the hard work of Michigan United criminal justice leaders. After more than 20 years of injustice, the “no stopping, no standing, no parking” signs are being removed as part of the city’s spring road maintenance.

What initially started as a way to stop loitering and drug sales in the early ‘90s, the “no stopping, no standing, no parking” signs quickly turned into an excuse for law enforcement to needlessly stop and frisk residents in predominantly black neighborhoods on Kalamazoo’s Northside.

“The signs went from offering neighborhoods protection from drugs and crime, to targeting and harassing the people who live in them,” Michigan United Criminal Justice Volunteer Patrese Nicole said. “Northside residents should be able to live like everybody else: without the fear of being questioned because of where we park or stand.”

Within the past year, Nicole, as part of Michigan United, held listening sessions and leadership trainings across Kalamazoo, and then brought residents to meet with city officials. While residents have complained about the signs since their installment more than 20 years ago, this is the first time complaints have been heard and met with results.

Nicole attributes the victory to Michigan United’s organizing efforts and commitment to criminal justice reform.

“When everybody has a seat at the table and the chance to have their voices heard like they did in Kalamazoo, powerful things happen,” said Nicole.

Now that the “no stopping, no standing, no parking” signs have been successfully challenged, Michigan United leaders in Kalamazoo are organizing to address other criminal justice policies that disproportionally harm black, brown and poor youth. Volunteers are investigating disparities in the disciplinary policies of public schools and are encouraging state officials to reconsider laws that automatically force 17-year-olds into the adult criminal justice system.

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