The Suspicious Jail Death Of Priscilla Slater

Priscilla Slater portrait
William Anderson
December 15, 2020

Priscilla Slater, of Detroit, was 38 when she died in the Harper Woods jail. Ever since then, a lot has happened to make people suspicious. Her sister knew when she hadn’t heard from her in a while that something was wrong – but what happened before that is what’s so troubling.

Priscilla’s death led to the firing of two officers, who concealed and manipulated evidence related to her death. The official Wayne County autopsy report said it was a “heart issue,” but that conclusion has been disputed as “nonsense” by another examiner. Authorities haven’t been kind.

Angry about protests over Priscilla’s death, then-Mayor Kenneth Poynter said, “I understand why white people would become white supremacists.” His wife also ripped up a protest sign. He ultimately resigned, but these are just some of the problems at hand.

Although there are plans to sue, questions around Priscilla’s death remain. Her name joins the likes of Sandra Bland, India Cummings, Janice Dotson-Stephens, and many other Black women who have died suspiciously in state custody. Each circumstance tells us a lot.

Black people cannot entrust our lives to a system that has been forged through brutality against Black people. It cannot guarantee us justice – but abolishing the prison industrial complex and building a better society that meets Black people’s needs can bring us closer!

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