Series Continues March 20 with ‘What to Do When Stopped by the Police’
The popular Muskegon Community College series “And Justice for All…” continues on Monday, March 20, with a discussion titled “What to Do When Stopped by the Police.” The event, which is free and open to the public, takes place from 10 a.m. to noon in Stevenson Center Room 1100.
The presenters include: Jeffrey Lewis, the director of public safety for the Muskegon Police Department; Dr. Joseph E. Thomas Jr., the police chief for Muskegon Heights; and Charles Ayres, an assistant public defender and trial attorney for Muskegon County. MCC sociologist Nicholas Budimir will facilitate the discussion.
The two law enforcement officers will share insights and informative materials, as well as conduct role-playing with students and cite personal experiences to educate the audience on best practices and how the police are trained to approach routine stops. Ayres will talk about the individual’s legal rights in those situations. A question-and-answer period will follow.
Lewis began his law enforcement career in 1978 with the Ypsilanti (MI) Police Department. He was a patrol officer, detective and sergeant before retiring in 1999. He co-directed the Eastern Michigan University (EMU) Center for Regional and National Security, became Police Chief of the Milan (MI) Police Department and, in 2011, joined the Muskegon Police Department. A graduate of MSU and EMU, he serves on the Muskegon Social Justice Commission and the Muskegon Rotary’s Diversity Inclusion Subcommittee.
Previously, Thomas has served with the Jackson (MI) Police Department; as Chief of Public Safety in Albion, MI; as Chief of Police in Southfield, MI; and as Interim Chief of the Inkster (MI) Police Department. Internationally, he served two tours of duty in Iraq as a Senior Police Advisor for the U.S. Department of State and was also a Deputy Director of Training supporting the Palestinian Authority Security Sector Transformation Program. He holds degrees from Eastern Michigan University, Western Michigan University, Alcorn State University and Jackson Community College.
Ayres, a Gunn Lake, MI native and a 2015 graduate of Cooley Law School, has been involved with the Muskegon County Public Defenders’ Office since it opened in January 2014 as only the second – as opposed to a contract-based system – in the State of Michigan.
The March 20 event is the ninth in the “And Justice for All..” series which began in February 2015. For more information, contact the Provost’s Office at (231) 777-0266.
Origins of “…And Justice For All” at MCC
In early 2015 when tensions between law enforcement and minorities were escalating in places like Ferguson, Cleveland and New York City, MCC took a proactive approach and launched its “…And Justice for All” series of community discussions.
“Now is as good a time as ever to engage our students in a larger societal issue that is worth talking and educating our students beyond the normal classroom discussions,” said MCC Vice President John Selmon in announcing the series. “Our students and others need helpful information about how to navigate the criminal justice system.”
- February 24, 2015 – “Rights, Race and the Police”
The inaugural event in Collegiate Hall brought together college and high schools students, community members, with faculty, local law enforcement and a Grand Rapids lawyer who had represented police officers sued for civil rights violations. The momentum created by that first discussion propelled MCC to coordinate five subsequent “…And Justice for All” events funded by the John G. Thompson College and Community Fund.
- April 23, 2015 – “After the Ferguson Report: A Dialogue on Race and Police”
Panelists included: D.J. Hilson, the Muskegon County Prosecutor; Lynne Gill, the Muskegon Heights Chief of Police; Darnell Blackburn, Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCLOES) District Field Representative; Jeffrey Lewis, the Director of Public Safety for the Muskegon Police Department; Nicholas Budimir, an MCC instructor; and Andy Wible, MCC Arts and Humanities Department Chair, the moderator.
- September 24, 2015 – “Explore Your Bias”
MCC faculty members Papa N’jai and Nicholas Budimir, along with Institute of Healing Racism Director Floyd R. Cook, led a discussion on various topics related to bias, such a structural racism, and engaged the audience with questions designed to provide greater insights into their perceptions and potential biases.
- November 30, 2015 – “Engaging Others: Race Class and Gender”
Participants viewed short videos and then randomly were divided into small groups, where MCC faculty and staff facilitated discussions about the complicated divisions of race, class and gender within society.
- February 23, 2016 – “Mass Incarceration: Balancing Justice and Public Safety”
With more than 2.2 million people incarcerated in U.S. jails or prisons in 2013 – a 400 percent increase since 1980 – a panel talked about criminals, rehabilitation and deterrence, the effectiveness of prisons and jails, and alternatives. Panelists included: Muskegon County Sheriff Dean Roesler; Muskegon Correctional Facility Warden Sherry Burt; Muskegon Community College Psychologist Dr. Sherri Deboef Chandler; and former prisoner and rehabilitation expert Cliff Washington.
- April 20, 2016 – “Political Engagement: Influencing Change”
Academics, politicians and activists talked about opportunities and ideas for influencing change in the way police, courts, and prisons function. Increasing public awareness around criminal justice and policing allows the opportunity to discuss and debate new directions and ideas for reform.Panelists included State Rep. Marcia Hovey-Wright (D-92nd District), State Rep. Jon Bumstead (R-100th District), Muskegon County Equal Opportunity Employment Officer Tim Bracey, MCC Board of Trustees Treasurer Sean Mullally and MCC Instructor Kurt Troutman. MCC Social Sciences faculty members Papa N’Jai and Nicholas Budimir facilitated the discussion.
- September 20, 2016 – “Defamation: the Play”
MCC hosted the nationally acclaimed Todd Logan show, “Defamation: The Play,” a riveting courtroom drama that explores the highly charged issues of race, religion, gender, class and the law with a twist – the audience is the jury. More than a play, the show is a unique opportunity for the community to engage in civil discourse about the most pressing social issues of our day.
- November 3, 2017 – “the 13th Amendment: From Shackles to Prison Bars?”
An open discussion of the Netflix documentary “13th” by Ava DuVernay and the deleterious legacy of that Constitutional amendment upon African-Americans was held. Michelle Loyd-Paige, the Executive Associate to the President for Diversity and Inclusion at Calvin College, was the panelist and MCC faculty member Gretchen Cline served as the facilitator. The 13th constitutional amendment was ratified in 1865 and stated: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime where of the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” The film charts the explosive growth in America’s prison population; in 1970, there were about 200,000 prisoners; today, the prison population is more than 2 million. Although the U.S. has just 5% of the world’s population, it has about 25% of the world’s prisoners, and about one in three prisoners are black men. More than 60% of the people in U.S prisons are people of color.