Ron Scott was a lifelong fighter for justice in the African American community, often organizing demonstrations in response to police violence in Detroit and elsewhere. When Terrance Kellom was killed in his father’s home by an Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer, Scott stood with the family in demanding accountability for the action. In 2014, he was at the center of demonstrations against overzealous policing on Belle Isle.
He died from the complications of cancer this weekend at Royal Oak Beaumont Hospital. He was 68.
As the leader of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, he was a tireless watchdog for the community who stood tall when others might have flinched from going head-on against law enforcement. Scott has been at the forefront of community activism for much of his life. In the 1970s, he was a member of the Black Panthers in Detroit. The local group is well-known for its lunch program for preschoolers.
In 2010, Scott was at the center of a war of words regarding police behavior when Officer Brian Huff was fatally shot during a raid at an abandoned house. When the community was unquestioning in support of Huff and other officers, Scott questioned the tactics that led to the fatality.
The Coalition’s most successful public policy activity was as part of a federal lawsuit against the Detroit Police Department for excessive force, illegal detentions, and unconstitutional conditions of confinement. The lawsuit led to a consent agreement for federal oversight of the department from 2003 to 2014. The consent agreement forced changes in the way police do business and led to a significant drop in the number of Detroiters killed by police each year.
The Coalition Against Police Brutality said in a press release: “We will continue to provide assistance to victims of police brutality, and advocate change in the culture, structure, and policies of the Detroit Police Department as well as other law enforcement agencies. … Ron Scott taught peace-building skills, conveying an understanding of those structures in neighborhoods as well as in governments that have contributed to the rise in violence by directing and empowering those at the community level to assist, facilitate, develop, and own grassroots solutions that will have a lasting impact. … His larger-than-life presence will be missed by us as well as the entire community.”
Ron Scott was part of the community that revolves around the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center for Community Leadership. He worked with activist Yusef Shakur on the Peace Zones for Life effort to curb violence in the neighborhoods of the city.
Scott was the eldest of four siblings. Public funeral services will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, at Historic Little Rock Baptist Church, 9000 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Public viewing and donation information will be announced at a later date.