Armed “Boogaloo boys” rallied Easter Sunday afternoon outside the Ann Arbor Justice Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan to condemn police militarization and protest the detainment of Michigan man Omar Shafie.
“We’re gonna be out here for a little bit! If you’d like to come and talk it over, we’re right out here. Talk to us maybe the way you should have talked to Omar,” yelled Timothy Teagan, a prominent member of the Boogaloo movement, at the City Hall building. “How much money did it take from the city to have fifty cops out there in a 36-hour standoff?”
“For what? A kid that broke no laws, wanted to be left alone, that you rolled on him outside, had guns right outside pointed at his head, and you wondered why he decided to lock himself in a room and try to defend himself?”
“Y’all want people to defend you, but if there’s one bad officer, and the other nine shut up, you’ve got ten bad officers,” said a masked participant. “And that night, you had fifty!”
The police observed the rally from a distance, but did not intervene or speak to attendees. A handful of local reporters in addition to News2Share spoke to the group.
A few members of the community spoke to the group, mostly unaware of the standoff.
One man had a heated exchange after approaching the group asking “what are you protesting about?”
“Get your fucking guns out of here, man,” he yelled at the Boogaloo activists after a brief exchange. “This is a peaceful community. We don’t need this. We’ve been through a pandemic. We’ve lost thousands of lives,” he said.
“You are not the police. You are a militia,” he shouted. “They are in charge, not you. Get the fuck out of our town!”
“Were you guys part of that thing in Washington?” the man asked, apparently referencing the January 6 riot at the Capitol.
“Oh, God no. The Trumpers? No, no, no, no,” replied Teagan.
Shafie was arrested at the conclusion of a 36-hour armed standoff with the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office in his parents’ home in the Superior Charter Township. Police were initially called on the early morning March 24th following a dispute between Shafie and his parents, who initially called the police.
“Around 4:30am a 911 call came in that their son was suffering a mental health crisis. Subject assaulted his parents, was armed with multiple weapons, wearing a flack jacket, and had multiple magazines. Deps safely evacuated family, but subject currently remains inside,” police initially described in a statement online on the 24th.
They added the following morning, “At this moment our subject remains barricaded & heavily armed. We as neighbors to remain vigilant and continue to seek shelter. Prior to arrival & while we were there the subject fired his weapon multiple times. No one has been injured, but police equipment has been destroyed.”
“After nearly 36 hours of negotiations, the 32-year-old subject put down his weapons and peacefully walked,” they posted the following day.
While local media characterized the situation as a mental health crisis, Shafie’s girlfriend, Cylie Johnston, shared a different version of events.
“This was NOT a “mental health crisis” this was a blatant misuse of police force&blatant OVER USE of police force in an attempt to intimidate – but they told ME that I was the one escalating the situation,” she said on Twitter.
“Everything you hear about this in the media is a complete and total fabrication,” Shafie himself said in a recording posted by Johnston on Facebook in a call recorded from jail.
Shafie clarified that while it is true that he fired shots, they were directed at a police loudspeaker, not at police themselves.
Shafie is charged with three counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, wearing body armor during the commission of a violent crime, and discharging a weapon in or at a building. All five counts are felonies.
Johnston shared the following statement with News2Share, describing the incident from her perspective. This statement is included verbatim:
“It all started with a slice of Stouffer’s lasagna. One minute we were talking about watching some anime together and he’s telling me that he will be right back; the next minute he is sending me texts and voice messages where he sounds very obviously upset and he’s telling me that his parents started yelling at him when he went downstairs to get food, so he went back upstairs and locked the door to his room. This was a pretty common occurrence in their household, it had gotten to the point where he would pretty much only eat after his parents went to sleep to avoid the confrontation and he was just trying to lay low while he waited for his taxes/stimulus to come in so he could move out; all of this happened between 12AM and 3AM.
I was in nearly constant contact with Omar throughout all of Wednesday; until they cut off his communications around 12/1AM Thursday morning whether it was through text, phone or video chat. Eventually Omar’s phone died so the police had no way of contacting him because he felt unsafe to leave his location in order to retrieve the phone they threw into his house after they breached it. I was able to get him to download a VOIP program on his computer in order to have a way for police to reach him; I was also able to get him to agree to negotiate with police on Wednesday evening, he was even the one to call them; yet the police were quick to try and paint a picture of him being uncooperative and me as “egging him on”.
Throughout the entire day I was attempting to help the police. Whether it was passing information on to Omar, or offering them advice that would help them keep him calm and cooperative; and throughout the entire day they did the opposite of what I suggested, which ended up escalating the situation rather than deescalating it. Trying to work with the police to achieve a peaceful resolution was like pulling teeth; shift change would happen and nobody would bother forwarding numbers or information along, I could call one number and get a different person every time I called back and somehow each person knew less than the one before them, sometimes the police would just outright start arguing/talking over me on the phone.
Eventually when they cut off Omar’s communications I had a friend offer to go to the scene and try to help police by talking to Omar over the loudspeaker from behind the line. The police had me forward his information on to them so that they could reach out to him in “a few minutes” – it never happened. I called in order to follow up multiple times and they would just blow the situation off each time I followed up. Finally, three hours after I had been told “a few minutes” my friend ended up just driving up and speaking to one of the police that were stationed along the perimeter; they never did let him onto the sce
At just before 3:30PM on Thursday, after a 36 hour standoff I received a call from police letting me know that Omar had surrendered peacefully (by this they meant that they launched half a dozen canisters of tear gas into a confined space, one of which hit him in the head) and that they were taking him into custody, they told me nothing beyond that. Later that same evening I received a call from Washtenaw County Jail where Omar was, and would remain, in solitary confinement for the next week.”