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Ann Arbor's Top 10 Summer News Stories

Ann Arbor's Top 10 Summer News Stories image Ann Arbor's Top 10 Summer News Stories image
Parent Issue
Month
September
Year
1994
Copyright
Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-alike)
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Agenda Publications
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Editor 's Note: Welcome back students! We have produced this special issue of AGENDA with you in mind, packing it with news and information useful to new and returning students, faculty, staff, and visitors. A lot of things have happened since school ended last spring and the following articles by Phillis Engelbert are designed to let you know what Treetown has been up to in your absence. It is our attempt, in that old fashioned back-to-school tradition, to write the proverbial essay: "What we did on summer vacation"-with a twist. It's more like "What we did on YOUR summer vacation." I MEsammmüsm On May 7, Ann Arbor resident and U-M employee Christine Gailbreath was brutally raped and slain in broad daylight near her home on the west side of the city. She was attacked while crossing an empty lot behind the post office on W. Stadium Blvd., which she regulariy crossed on her way to a nearby drugstore. Shortly thereafter, pólice released information indicating the presence of a serial rapist in Ann Arbor. DNA testing had confirmed that three other rapes since 1992 had been committed byacommon perpetrator. Pólice have reason to believe that the same man may have committed this latest crime, as well as seven attempted rapes, all in northwest Ann Arbor, since February, 1992- a total of 11 assaults over 28 months. While preliminary DNA testing suggests a link of the serial rapistto the Gailbreath killing, conclusive test results won't be available until eariy September. While many of the attacks have taken place in isolated areas, some have occurred in the open (i.e. one woman was attacked on her bicycle on a busy street in broad daylight). They have occurred at various times of day - seven happened after dark. The first of the series of assaults wasan attempted rape in the winter of 1992 on the city's west side. There were two otherattacks in 1 992, seven in 1 993, and one (the Gailbreath murder) so farthis year [see chronology]. Aprofileof the suspect has been developed by Ann Arbor pólice, based on information from women who got a look at their attacker. He is described as a black man, 25-35 years old, between 5' 7" and 6' tall, in good physical shape, with a medium to stocky build. He may also have an explosive temper and an anti-social personality. The attacker is particulariy vicious in his methods. He generally approaches his victim from behind and attempts to knock her unconsious by punching her in the head. For this reason, many of the victims never even saw their attacker. It also appears that this attacker is scared off by victims who scream. The prospect of a serial rapist has sent waves of fear throughout thecommunity.lt has forced women to be more cautious as they go about their daily activities. This ncreased lance, according to the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awarpness Center's education coördinator Joyce Wright, is necessary. "My feeling is that when women go out they should always be on the alert," Wright told AGENDA. "Just because we haven't heard anything about this particular rapist in a couple of months, women shouldn't let down their guard. Take the necessary precautions, because in the periods of time between each assault, people relax. And that's his opportunity to pounce again." General safety tips for women The following list is a compilation of tips provided by the Assault Crisis Center and Mejishi Martial Arts instructor Jaye Spiro: Be aware of your surroundings and where you can turn for help; walk with an air of confidence (.e. make eye contact with people you pass); rehearse how to foil an attack; walk in the lit street rather than on dark side walks; wearcomfortable shoes and clothes you can run in; and carry a whistle or alarm. If you are being followed, scream, blow your whistle, or actívate your alarm. If walking to your car, have your car keys in hand and check the back seat of your car before getting in. If you want to be able to fight back against an attacker, self-defense training is recommended. If possible, walk in groups or with a big dog. Pólice still seeking tips According to the Ann Arbor Pólice Department, as of mid-August pólice had received about 475 tips, checked 350 suspects and cleared 135-150 of them - about 54 by DNA testing. Pólice are still seeking tips. If you have nformation about these attacks, cali the Ann Arbor pólice tip line at 996-3199 or the detective bureau at 994-2880. CHironoiogf Of Ássawits #1-Feb. 17, 1992, 10:15 pm The suspect punched a woman in the face in an attempted sexual assault in her carport n the 200 block of W. Washington. #2-Aug. 10, 1992, 1 1:59 pm The suspect chased and punched a woman in the stomach in the 2300 block of Winewood Ave. She escaped after spraying her attacker with mace. #3-Sept. 28, 1992, 9:00 am The suspect punched a woman in the face and sexually assaulted her while she was walking in Eberwhite Woods. #4-July 26, 1993, 8:45 am The suspect threw a woman to the ground, causing her to strike her head, in the stairwell of the Ann-Ashley St. parking structure. She screamed and her attacker fled. #5-Sept. 2, 1993, 1 1:55 pm The suspect attempted to sexually assault a woman who was jogging in the 1 500 block of W. Liberty. He forced her to the ground. She screamed and scared him off. #6-Sept. 28, 1993, 10:05 pm The suspect approached a woman from behind and punched her in the face on the 400 block of N. Ashley. She screamed and he fled. #7-Oct. 2, 1 993, 1 0:30 pm The suspect punched a woman in the head and sexually assaulted her near a secluded park in the 400 block of Longshore Dr. #8-Oct. 28, 1993, 10:05 pm The suspect grabbed a woman from behind and punched her in the face in the 300 block of Miller Ave. She screamed ás he attempted to force her off the sidewalk, and he fled. #9-Nov. 2, 1993, 1:45 am The suspect struck a woman in the head and sexually assaulted her as she entered her apartment in the 800 block of Miller Ave. #10-Nov. 5, 1993, 2:45 pm The suspect punched a woman in the head as she rode her bicycle on the 1 1 00 block of W. Huron. The suspect then left. #1 1 - May 7, 1994, 1:30 pm The suspect approached Christine Gailbreath from behind, struck her in the head, and sexually assaulted her on a trail behind the post office on W. Stadium Blvd. Gailbreath died from her injuries. Investigation Raises Fears of Gvil Rights Violations The broad physical description of the "suspect" and the ensuing intensive pólice investigation has raised concerns among the local civil rights community. Many feel that this ordeal has turned most of the city's black males into suspects. The Coalition for Community Unity was formed over the summer to address this issue. It is comprised of members of local NAACP chapters, the Huron Valley Association of Black Social Workers, the U-M Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center (SAPAC), the Homeless Action Committee, and several other organizations. They are now circulating information cards instructing men of their civil rights when approached by pólice. The cards explain that pólice can't take a person's blood (for DNA testing) without the individual's consent or a search warrant. According to former City Councilperson Larry Hunter, the Coalition is concemed both with the assaults against women and the way the investigaron is being carried out. "We want to make sure that the crime is being investigated on a fair basis, as opposed to people being coerced into DNA testing," said Hunter. Hunter claims that pólice are asking AfricanAmerican males totake the DNA test in orderto be ruled out as a suspect. "People don't know what their rights are," said Hunter. "We don't like the appearance of random harassment." Since activists starled bringing public attention to this matter, Hunter said, "I think some things have changed, but there's a ways to go." He added that city officials have been open and cooperative, but thatthe Coalition remains vigilant Coalition for Community Unity members have succ eeded in bringi ng about at least one cnange in the way the investigaron is being conducted. For instance, until recently a pólice form given to potential suspects about DNA testing did not state that the individual has a right to ref use the test That inf ormation is contained in the new forms pólice now carry. umMwmmwAfmmmMm Anumber of changes have taken place this summer at downtown businesses. Rve that deserve mention here are: the opening of the new Borders Books and Music, the move of the Fourth Avenue People's Food Coop into new quarters, the closing and re-opening of the Wildflour Bakery, the expansión of Tower RecordsVideo(nciwTowerRecordsVideoBooks), and the opening of a first-flooraddition to Shaman Drum. Borders Books and Music Goodbye Jacobson 's, hel lo Borders! Aftertwo years in the making, Borders now occupies the two-story, 40,000 square-foot space on E. Liberty and Maynard. The new flagship store of Kmart Corp. 's Borders-Walden Group opened its doors onJuly16. The new store is three times the size of the old store on S. State. It is tended by 80 employees, boasts over 1 60,000 book titles, 70,000 music selections and 9,000 video titles. They have also added a multi-media section with CD-ROMs and software, as well as an espresso bar. Thefirstmonth at the new store "has been very busy and kind of hectic," reports Borders Community Relations Coördinator Dallas Moore. Moore is looking forward to a busy fall, full of musical events and visits by authors. "There wil I be a lot for people to do here," said Moore. People's Food Co-op The Fourth Avenue People's Food Co-op has finally made their big move two storefronts down, to a much larger space (more than three times the size of the old store). On August 2, after 1 9 years at 21 2 N. Fourth Ave., they opened their doors at 21 6 N. Fourth Ave. The new store features an expanded product line, as well as wider aisles and addit ional customer services. There is also now a curbside pick-up zone in front of the store. Shoppers can leave their punchases in the store, drive to the pick-up zone, and have a staff mem ber carry their groceries out tothem. The new store isalso handicap accessibte. Dave Blackbum, Food Co-op finance manager, claims that shopper response to the new store has been "very good." "People have liked what we've presented," said Blackbum. "There is the sense of warmth of the old store, combined with an easier shopping experience." Wildflour Bakery Just four doors away from the co-op, at 208 N. Fourth Ave., is Wildflour Bakery. For a while this summer it looked as though Ann Arbor's only collectively-run, whole-grain bakery was going to close. After severa! long meetings and much soulsearching, however, the bakery was given a new lease on life. At a community meeting held June 26, it was reported that the bakery had been iosing money overthe last yearand was confronted by a number ofpersonnelandotherproblems.Thetaskwasput to the "community" (Wildflour shoppers, volunteers, and other interested individuals) to develop a plan to keep the bakery going, or it would close in two weeks. At the subsequent community meeting held July 1 1 , just over 75% (the percentage required for approval) voted in favor of a plan to save the bakery. The plan called for closing the bakery until August 29, during which time a fundraising drive would be conducted. It would then re-open with a new collective (including two former bakers, one from the most recent collective, and one more to be hired). If you depend on Wildflour Bakery for wholesome bread and goodies, you're safe, fornow. The next few months will be crucial in determining the fate of the bakery. Tower RecordsVideoBooks If you left town at the end of April, you knew the store in the S. University Gallería by its old name, Tower RecordsVideo. The new name reflects the wider array of goods available in a space now doubled in size. Tower has added books, magazines, and newspapers from around the world. The magazine section has grown from 1 2 feet to 40 feet, according to store manager Torn Rule. Rule describes the book section as "mostJy altemative, hip kinds of books- philosophy, poetry, cultural studies and altemative lifestyles." There is also an expanded video section boasting 4,000 video titles as well as 2,000 laser disk tjtles. Despite the new emphasis on other media, music is still Tower'sforte. Sincethe store'sexpansion, the music section has doubled - to about 90,000 CD titles. Shaman Drum Bookshop If Ann Arbor has a reputatkxi as atown full of bookworms, this summer it certainly lived up to that reputation. In late June, Shaman Drum Bookshop joined the wave of bookstore expansions, with the opening of the first half of its firstfioor addition. When the adjacent second half opens in earty September, the store will have more ttian quadrupled in size. Shaman Drum, known for its altemative and esoteric books, has existed for 14 years in its second-floor nook at 31 3 S. State. That space will continue tohousetext books. Books on disciplines and humanities (i.e. history, gender studies, and cultural studies) have moved downstairs to 31 5 S. State, the old home of the Continental Deli. An expanded literary fiction section and acollection of interactive CD-ROM producís will fill phase two of the firstftoor, the former Sterr's men'sclothing store. By mid-September Shaman Drum will carry 30,000 book titles and plans to expand that to 40,000 titles by the end of the year. Shaman Drum trade manager Keith Taylor describes the new first flooras "a very pretty space and a very comfortable environment." Watch for frequent booksignings by local authors (and a few out-of-towners) and monthly readings this fall. ii.ii.iijjjj.üijiffffiiffijfffifflwijffïïmi This November voters will choose representatives for a number of local and statewide offices. And due to the passage of a 1 992 voter inrtiative that moved city elections to the fall, Ann Arborites for the first time will cast votes for mayor in a November election. The field of candidates for many offices was narrowed in this sum mer' s primaries. On August 2, Michigan voters decided which Democrat and Re publican candidates will compete in the general elections on November 8. Races to be decided then include: Governor, State Senate, State House, U.S. Senate, U.S. House, Circuit Court Judge, Appeals Court Judge, Ann Arbor City Council and Mayor, and Washtenaw County Commissioners. Register to vote! The deadline for registering in order to be eligible to vote on November 8 is October 1 1 . You can register at the City Clerk's office (on the second floor in Ann Arbor City Hall), at the Ann Arbor Public Library (on Fifth Ave. at William), orat the Secretary of State office. For more information contact the City Clerk at 994-2725. Get involved! With so many races and candidates to choose from, now is a great time to gain experience working within the electoral process. You can get in touch with most candidates through these three telephone numbers: Ann Arbor Democratie Party, 665-71 53; Republican Headquarters of Washtenaw County, 971 -4622; Libertarian Party (they are running for two city council seats), James Hudler at 475-9792 or Emily Salvette at 747-81 29. Govemor Democrat Howard Wolpe won a four-way primary and will challenge incumbent Republican John Engler in the general election. Wolpe garnered 241 ,403 votes. Coming in second was State Senator Debbie Stabenow with 209,013 votes. Wolpe, aformer U.S. Representative, was backed by the AFL-CIO, and his leadership in the antiapartheid movement won him the support of large numbers of African-Americans. Heaccuses Engler of f avoring special interests such as the i nsurance industry and big business. The Wolpe vs. Engler race will pit one of Michigan's most liberal lawmakers against one of the state's most conservative ones. State Senate (18th District) The November race toreplace Lana Potlack will be between Democrat Alma Wheeler Smrth and Republican Joseph Mikulec Jr. Smith won by a surprisingly wide margin (three-to-one) over her opponent, chief deputy Washtenaw County Treasurer Ken Schwartz.Bothcandidatestouted liberal credentials and courted women voters. Smith, daughter of the late former Ann Arbor Mayor Ai Wheeler, has worked as the legislative coördinator f or State Senator Lana Pollackforthe last eight years. She supports an agenda - highlighting women's rights and the environment - similar tothat established by Pollack. Ypsilanti business owner Mikulec, winner of the three-way Republican primary, is making his first attempt at public office. The Ann Arbor News quoted Mikulec as saying, "I follow the govemor's line and l'm a real conservative." State House (53rd District) In one of Ann Arbor's most closely-watched races, former Mayor Liz Brater trounced City Councilmember Peter Nicholas in the Democratie primary. Brater will face Republican Renee Bimbaum, winner of the poorty-attended Republican primary, in the race to fill the seat vacated by Lynn Rivers. Despite endorsements from The Ann Arbor News and both Detroit dailies, Nicholas, the Demo crat who often sides with Republicans on City Council, won only half as many votes as Brater. Bimbaum is a former partner in a Toledo law firm who moved to Ann Arbor three years ago. U.S. Senate Democrat Bob Carr narrowly eeked out a victory in the six-way primary with 156,727 votes

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