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Chelsea teen ticketed while protesting, attorney files motion to dismiss

Mya King holding a large rabbit
Courtesy Mya King

Mya King, a sixteen-year-old from Chelsea, says she's been involved in activism in her city for awhile now. She was issued a ticket for impeding traffic during a Black Lives Matter protest over the summer.

King's attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the ticket in the 14A district court this week.

At another, separate protest, she says she was punched in the face by a woman who began yelling at middle schoolers and high schoolers at the event. 

When King, who's Indian-American, and her parents went to the local police to report the issue, she says she and her mother experienced racist treatment from the officer who took her report of the incident. 

"Growing up in Chelsea as one of the only minorities here, the color of my skin is something that I’ve always been insecure about. And then like after this incident like I really felt like it was a target, you know, towards me being the minority," says King.

The Chelsea Police Department did not comment on the allegations against the officer, but the city's attorney, Peter Flintoft, says the officer was placed on administrative leave.

Laila Kassis is a third-year law student at the University of Michigan assisting with King's case. 

"It’s disgusting in general that they’re ticketing Black Lives Matter protesters, peaceful protesters, but the fact that Mya was punched in the face, this woman still hasn’t been charged, and then for her to have this experience with the officer is just embarrassing," says Kassis.

City attorney Peter Flintoft says Chelsea's "main street," or the main road that runs through the city, is M-52—a state freeway. He says the city does not maintain it or have jurisdiction over it; all it can do is enforce state law.

"The motion to dismiss takes the position that the entire state statute is unconstitutional. If that is true, then the city of Chelsea should not be litigating this. They should ask the court to notify the Michigan attorney general that they think the state statute is unconstitutional," he says.

Flintoft says the situation regarding King's alleged assault was sent to the Washtenaw County prosecutor's office, as he says is the situation with all potential criminal cases. Flintoft says the county prosecutor's office has not notified the city whether they will be prosecuting the woman who allegedly punched King. He says the lack of communication is frustrating. 

Brian Mackie, the Washtenaw County prosecuting attorney, sent the following statement via email:

"The case has been assigned to an assistant prosecuting attorney for review. I cannot comment or release any additional information until either a criminal prosecution is initiated and the offender has been arraigned, or the request for prosecution has been denied. Accordingly, I cannot say anything further about the matter at this time."

Caroline is a third year history major at the University of Michigan. She also works at The Michigan Daily, where she has been a copy editor and an opinion columnist. When she’s not at work, you can find her down at Argo Pond as a coxswain for the Michigan men’s rowing team. Caroline loves swimming, going for walks, being outdoors, cooking, trivia, and spending time with her two-year-old cat, Pepper.
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