Making it Home- the Arrest and Release of Gary Anderson –
Yesterday, Gary Anderson, the highly respected executive director of Plowshares Theater, and a professor at Wayne County Community College, who is also a deacon at the Plymouth United Church of Christ in Detroit, Michigan, was arrested in Taylor, Michigan outside the campus of the college where he works. It was not my intention to write about what happened, but when it was all over, on my way home from the police station, Gary texted me and told me it would be ok for me to share what happened.
At 2:02 yesterday, as I was preparing to sit down and visit with another church member, I received a call from Gary’s wife, Dr. Adell Anderson. She was upset and told me her husband had been arrested at the college. I told her I would meet her at the station and to call my wife, who is a federal judge. It is amazing to think about the power of the telephone! Between Denise and me, we lined up a lot of resources for Gary. Denise called several lawyers and finally got Atty. Rita White, also a church member, who along with her husband, Dr. Oronde White, had spent much of their Saturday at the State Prison in Jackson, Michigan. I called Dr. Curtis Ivery, who is the president of the college. When I could not reach Dr. Ivery immediately, my brother Steve called Dr. Ivery’s assistant. Steve then called a local businessman who has ties to the mayor of Taylor. I called Rev. Georgia Hill, my associate minister, who is also a lawyer. She contacted another church member, Denise Mallat, who also placed a call to Dr. Ivery. We had quite a thread of cell phone calls!
When I arrived at the Taylor Police Station, I was told that only a lawyer or minister could go back into the cell block to speak with Gary. The police officer at the desk asked me to show him my card. I told him I did not carry my card yesterday. He said, you “Can’t go in the back without a card.” I pulled out my cell phone and showed him my church’s website with my name and photo. Eventually, he let me go back to talk with Gary.
Gary told me it all started during a presentation on “Active Shooter Situations” for faculty at the college. He said he raised his hand and asked questions about the choice of examples during the presentation. Gary also shared that he got loud and shouted two expletives. Immediately afterwards, he left the auditorium for the restroom. It was there that a campus police officer confronted him. They exchanged words and Gary left the building for his car. While in his automobile, the campus police surrounded him and he was arrested by the Taylor, Michigan police.
The whole incident seems really overblown, for something that began as an expletive laced question during a workshop for professors.
Adell, my wife, mother in law, Atty. Rita White and her husband, Dr. Oronde and I stayed at the police station for hours. Later, Atty. Mark Brown, who is an associate of our associate minister, Rev. Dr. Georgia Hill, and Atty. Rita White, arrived and talked with a local judge and prosecutor to arrange for the release of Gary on bond. Finally, round fifteen minutes after 10pm, Gary was released to the loving arms of his wife, family and friends.
When I was with him in the cell block area, Gary and I shared a laugh that of all weekends, this weekend, when the young adults at our church would spearhead a program called, “Making it home” – “What to do and Say when Stopped by the Police,” that he should be arrested in this downriver suburb of Detroit. The police where polite, but not particularly in a hurry for his release. I had the sense that Gary was an important person because of all the people who had shown up to secure his release from jail.
As I said earlier, I did not plan on sharing this story, but Gary told me it would be alright. I teased him and told him if I were preaching today, I would tell it all! Smile.
We have a problem in America when it comes to black men and the police. It is not just black men, but, black men who are physically large and often darker. Gary is not super-dark, but he is large with a bigger than life voice. Gary is fortunate he was not shot, tassered, or beaten. On of the lessons from our Saturday incident in Taylor is the importance of surrounding our people when they are hassled by the police. I shudder to try to imagine what might have happened to Gary if he were not surrounded by family, friends, a minister, a judge, and two lawyers!
Amos 5: 24 But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. 
Questions for Reflection:
- Have you ever been abused by the police?
- When have you felt that you were targeted because of your race?
- What do you think America can do to improve relations between the police and people of color?
Prayer: Lord, I pray for the day when your justice will be received like waters from a mighty stream! Grant me the courage to speak truth to power and to stand up for justice for all. Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior I pray. Amen.
Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III
Photos by Deacon Mike Daniels
Additional Prayers Photos and Meditations from Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at https://nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com/
More about the ministry, mission, prayers and publications from Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at www.nicholashoodiiiministries.org
Also at www.puccdetroit.org