Organizers have now held three Pull Over Prevention (POP) clinics in the Ypsilanti area, and they plan to keep offering the events at least every other month through the winter.
The Huron Valley Democratic Socialists of America (HVDSA), the Mutual Aid Network of Ypsilanti, and Peace House Ypsilanti began hosting the events in August to help communities most at risk of harm from police during a traffic stop, in a time when family budgets are shrinking and automotive maintenance might be low priority.
Community organizer and HVDSA member Jonah Hahn says mechanics at the clinics can check attendees' cars' fluids and tire pressure, and correct other minor automotive issues. But he says the main focus is making sure vehicle lights are up to code, since "that provides an easy justification for anyone to be pulled over."
"The underlying ideology of the event is caring for the community and minimizing harm," Hahn says. "COVID-19 and economic hardship are affecting the same communities that, on the whole, are most likely to be profiled by police, and these events seek to address multiple harms at one time."
All events have been held outdoors in Ypsilanti or Ypsilanti Township, and Hahn says all future events will be held in the Ypsilanti area.
"The intention has always been to ground the event in the Ypsilanti area, because it has the largest population that we're hoping to assist with, including the undocumented [immigrants] and communities of color," Hahn says.
Each event also provides free child care to participants and volunteers, as well as snacks, food pantry boxes, and other resources for those who attend. Visitors to the POP clinics can also pick up free, donated COVID-19 safety supplies; information about community resources; and educational materials about people's rights when they are stopped by police or immigration authorities.
Hahn says those who seek repairs are welcome to watch the repairs being done and consult with a volunteer mechanic about other, more involved repairs their vehicle may need.
"Our hope is that, down the road, we can actually host skill shares, events where people come not just to get a light replaced but to deliberately teach and empower them to do the repairs themselves," Hahn says. "The idea is that they'll share with other friends and that way the knowledge will diffuse throughout the community."
Hahn says the POP clinics have had a growing impact. People stop by to get their cars worked on and take advantage of other resources, and then they tell friends and family about it or even come back to volunteer at a future event.
"We've noticed there's been a huge sense of relief to concretely and materially impact people in a positive way," Hahn says. "People thank us and tell us it's a great idea and that they're happy it exists. I hope we can continue to offer these well into the future and that … other organizations in Ypsilanti can build upon and expand on what we've already done."
Anyone interested in attending or volunteering at a future POP clinic may watch the Southeast MI Pull Over Prevention Facebook page for details. Questions can be directed to email@example.com.
Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the project manager of On the Ground Ypsilanti. She joined Concentrate as a news writer in early 2017 and is an occasional contributor to other Issue Media Group publications. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo courtesy of Southeast MI Pull Over Prevention.