Color of Autism Group Says Women are Lying About Man Exposing Penis, Lewd Comments
(Crystal A. Proxmire, April 27, 2021)
Hazel Park, Ferndale, MI – About two dozen protestors gathered at the corner of 9 Mile and John R. Tuesday evening in protest against two cities pressing charges against 20-year-old Armani Sharpe, who was accused of exposing himself and making lewd comments to a woman in Ferndale and a woman in Hazel Park on the morning of Sept. 6, 2020.
Sharpe’s mother, Monique Jewell, says her son would not have done that because he has Autism and is uncomfortable around strangers, and says the women are making up the story against him because he is black. Sharpe reached out to Color of Autism, a Michigan-based organization supporting families with Austistic children, for help getting media attention in hopes of having the charges dismissed. Warriors on Wheels of Metropolitan and Moratorium NOW! Coalition also took part in the protest.
A post by Color of Autism on Facebook said “In September 2020, Armani Sharpe was taking his daily therapeutic walk through his suburban Detroit neighborhood of Hazel Park, MI. While on this walk he was approached by two white women, inquiring as to why he was in “their” neighborhood? These women called the police and alleged that Armani “Exposed” himself in retaliation to their unjust questioning.
“Armani was arrested and charged and has cases in two cities. Why? The incident happened in a field that borders two cities Ferndale and Hazel Park, MI., and both prosecutors moved forward with trying cases against him. He’s being charged in Hazel Park with Obscene conduct and in Ferndale, he’s being charged with indecent exposure. His next court date is on Thursday, April 29, 2021, in Hazel Park, MI. His Ferndale, MI case is on May 4, 2021.
“We believe that Armani is innocent, and his only crime was walking while black!
“Armani is autistic and suffers from processing disorder and anxiety. His disability is well documented and he was receiving services at the time of his arrest. He’s very soft-spoken and kind from our interactions. Unfortunately, unlike his white peers, there has been absolutely no consideration to the fact that he’s autistic.”
The post was shared widely on social media, at the same officials from each city were unable to comment because the cases are still open.
Oakland County Times was able to obtain the police reports from both departments as well as the court filing in Ferndale through Freedom of Information Act Requests. We also exchanged emails with Color of Autism Director, and protest organizer, Camille Proctor prior to the event.
“I’ve met Armani via Zoom and he is introverted, soft spoken, and kind. Not talkative at all,” Proctor said. “In fact he’s been receiving services from Easter Seals for a number of years. The accusers are middle aged white women. Based on what I’ve been told and observed they fit the description of Central Park Dog Walkers. There are some inconsistencies that are concerning as well as some “familiar corroboration”, which seems very suspicious.”
When asked to explain why she felt there was corroboration, she replied “As I stated it appears to be as from my understanding they communicated prior to providing their statements. I wasn’t there, so I can only speculate, but I’m not taking the word of the police or 2 middle aged white woman over a black autistic kid with processing disorder in the wake of the Central Park dog walker, George Floyd, Elijah McClain (Autistic) and so on. My concern is Armani being treated fairly…PERIOD!”
At the protest Proctor said “They approached him. They asked him why he was in their neighborhood and they proceeded to harass him.”
Sharpe attended the protest, speaking to supporters and posing for pictures. However at his mother’s request he did not speak to the media in attendance.
The victims in the cases have remained silent on social media as people online call them “liars” and “Karens” for reporting the incidents to the police. However court documents tell their side of what happened around 7:30 am that morning.
According to the Hazel Park report “[The Victim] stated she was in her backyard [location] with her dog facing the [location] sidewalk. During that time she stated Armani was walking by [location] and stopped at the fence near her backyard. Armani then pulled his penis out, exposing himself to her but did not say anything at that time. Armani then continued to walk a short distance n/b on the sidewalk and when he reached the corner near the stop sign, turned to [The Victim] and asked her, ‘You want to suck a dick?’ She told him no and to keep walking or she would call the police. [The Victim] then called police. Armani continued walking n/b on the sidewalk.”
Sharpe reportedly then crossed into Ferndale where the second encounter happened. The Ferndale home was nearby, and according to the report the women were neighbors who knew each other. The woman in Hazel Park did not clearly hear or see what happened at the Ferndale home, only that Sharpe walked there and interacted with her.
The Ferndale report said that the victim “stated she was sitting outside her home near the sidewalk [location] drinking a cup of coffee when a black male came up behind her on the sidewalk with his pants down to his knees holding onto his exposed penis with both hands telling her “good morning’ and ‘why don’t you suck my dick.” When [The Victim] rebuked the male’s suggestion, he took off. He was arrested by the Hazel Park Police Department moments later for a similar incident in their city.”
Sharpe was stopped by Hazel Park police nearby and the Ferndale victim was taken to the scene by a Ferndale officer to identify him.
“At booking Armani was unable to answer simple questions such as his phone number, his mother’s name… He was unaware of what he had done wrong, why he was at the police station, and asked several times if he was in trouble.” He gave an incorrect name for his mother and a nonexistent address. Both Ferndale and Hazel Park reports include the fact that he is Autistic.
Police were able to contact his mother because Sharpe was in the system for an incident in 2018 where he was petitioned to the hospital for an evaluation. In regards to this, Jewell told Oakland County Times “It was just a meltdown. That was it. It had nothing to do with this neighborhood. It was just us trying to get him some help. He got his help and he’s been in ongoing therapy.”
On Sept. 8 an officer from Hazel Park spoke with Jewell by phone about the accusations against her son.
“She stated that Armani didn’t do what he’s being accused of,” the report said. “She stated he told her that he was ‘peeing in the bushes’ because there were a lot of trees there and he thought it was an alley, when the women walked up to him. He told her that his back was to them. Armani denied exposing himself to the women or making the statement about ‘sucking a dick.’ [Name redacted by police] stated that Armani is not like that. She stated that there were not two incidents, rather one involving 2 women. [Name redacted by police] was angry that Armani is being accused of this crime and stated she will not bring him in for an interview, that she is going to speak to an attorney.”
Jewell said that The City of Hazel Park offered Sharpe a plea deal that would put him on probation, but that he plans to fight the charge. In Ferndale the charge is a misdemeanor with a $500 fine and/or 90 days in jail. Both hearings are scheduled within the next week.
Note: An earlier version of this post described Color of Autism to be a Detroit-based group. This has been updated to say Michigan-based. Also at this request the names of other participating groups were added.