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The Killing of Aura Rosser

Beauty and Police

by PETER LINEBAUGH

Aura Rosser, a forty-something Black mother of three, was shot to death by police here in Ann Arbor, on November 9, 2014.

What kind of human being was she? At the moment the answer depends on what the police suggest (drug addict) and what her sister is reported to have said (an artist). I do not wish to make biographical or psychological reflections about her but her death raises two other questions which deserve reflection: What kind of human beings are we? What are we to become?

The police, called to intervene in a domestic dispute, responded by shooting her in the face as she approached them from the kitchen, allegedly with a fish knife in her hand.   According to her sister she would cook when she was upset. In fact she had a background in the food business having worked in restaurants in Detroit, Lansing, and Okemos. According to her sister she was “very artistic. She was deeply into painting with oils and acrylics. She’s a culture-type of gal,” her sister continued, “she was a really sweet girl. Wild. Outgoing. Articulate.”

According to news and police accounts, Aura Rosser became a cocaine or crack addict. True or false, the report links the death to international killing fields, the violence of production in Columbia, the violence of traffic in Mexico. Raúl Zibechi and Gustavo Esteva, both knowledgeable commentators, conclude that the narco criminal and politician have merged as the narco-state. In September 43 student-teachers were “disappeared” in Mexico by such a combination of corrupt authority and terrorizing drug cartels. These student-teachers in the state of Guerrero were (are?) young and committed to ideals of justice and subsistence for all.

I cannot consider Aura Rosser’s death at the hands of the police simply a “mistake.” It is essential that people’s justice be served for this homicide by a rigorous and open investigation of the police shooters. The police will conduct their own secret investigation but this is totally insufficient. A police state is a state not only of lawlessness and force, it is secret state. That is another link between the local and the global. Edward Snowden, the whistle-blower, has gone into exile having shown government spying on our telephone and electronic communications. Whether at municipal, county, state, federal, or international level, secrecy is the mask of terror or wrong-doing.

Obviously the homicide of Aura Rosser belongs in the wider context that includes racist violence against people of color: Emmett Till, Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown. Aura Rosser was a Detroiter; she was a graduate of Cass Technical High School in Detroit. Her life coincided with the deliberate destruction of healthy and promising life in

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