DETROIT - Honor student Deidra Stokes triumphed
in court June 28, but a conversation she had with Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick
regarding her arrest outside Northern High School shows that Kilpatrick
and the police may need a crash course in the constitutional rights of Detroiters.
Thirty-Sixth District Court Judge Mark Randon dismissed a charge of "impeding
pedestrian traffic" brought against Stokes after Detroit police
officer Jamale Turner failed to show up at her hearing. Turner
briefly arrested Stokes March 15 in a sweep outside Northern, prior to an
expected appearance there by Kilpatrick.
Stokes was only waiting for her mother to pick her up after
completing that evening's Upward Bound college prep class.Stokes said she
spoke with Kilpatrick about her case when she and her mother encountered
him earlier in the month on a campaign stop.
Deidra Stokes with her mother Gloria
"Mayor Kilpatrick said he had nothing to do with that,
and I just should have given the police my ID," said Stokes. "He
told me he is a lawyer."
Stokes had told the mayor that Turner asked for her ID when
she was reluctant to leave the spot where her mother normally picks her
up. When Stokes did not show her ID, Turner arrested her and put her in
the back of his police car before ticketing her and releasing her to her
"That's garbage," said long-time criminal defense
attorney James C. Howarth. "This is neither Nazi Germany
in the 1930's nor South Africa in the 1950's. You do not have to show your
papers to police, with only two exceptions, if you are driving, or crossing
an international border. If I want to leave my house and go to the corner
to buy a cup of coffee, the police cannot require me to show ID. I have
a right to say either, 'I'm not showing it to you, or I don't have any ID
In 1979, Howarth argued the case of Michigan v. DeFillippo
before the U.S. Supreme Court, on behalf of a defendant
who had violated the Detroit "Stop and Identify" ordinance then
in existence by failing to show identification. The defendant was searched
pursuant to his arrest on the ordinance violation, and charged with drug
Subsequent to the defendant's arrest, the ordinance was declared
unconstitutional by Michigan's state appeals and supreme courts. By a 5-3
margin, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld DeFillippo's conviction on the drug
possession charges, but did not dispute the state courts' rulings that the
"Stop and ID" ordinance was unconstitutional.
In March of 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court held in the hotly-disputed
case of Hibbel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada
that individuals must give their names to police. Howarth said, however,
that decision did not include the right to ask for identification papers.
Prior to press time, Mayor Kilpatrick's communications
chief Ceeon Quiett did not reply to several phone calls for comment.
Stokes' mother Gloria Bland said that in
preparation for Stokes trial, she had obtained a letter from Northern High
School principal Marvin Youmans confirming that Stokes was present
on the high school grounds for the Upward Bound course.
Youmans had earlier supported the police sweep in question,
as well as other police sweeps periodically ordered by the Detroit Public
Schools in school hallways.
Stokes' attorney Shanta Driver said, "We're
planning to discuss with the family the possibility of a civil suit against
the city false arrest and for harassment. What was done to Deidra is completely
outrageous, and this would be really valuable to stop this kind of needless
harassment against the youth of the city of Detroit."
Pursuant to a petition by Mitchell's Media Group, the Detroit
city council has set a hearing on school police sweeps and other police
harassment of Detroit youth for Thursday, July
28 at 10 a.m. Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings,
who has defended the sweeps, has been asked to be present.
For further information on the hearing, call Wyoman
Mitchell at (313) 645-3376.
The Michigan Citizen
Detroit, MI 48216
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