The Rapidian

LINC holds town hall discussing civil rights ordinance proposal

On Wednesday, April 18, 2018, more than 50 people attended the town hall discussing discrimination in Grand Rapids in the areas of housing, employment, public accommodations, and disability.
Jackie Hernandez and LaKiya Thompson-Jenkins lead a breakout session during the town hall meeting.

Jackie Hernandez and LaKiya Thompson-Jenkins lead a breakout session during the town hall meeting. /Elizabeth Rogers Drouillard

Informational sheet from LINC

LINC UP proposes new civil rights ordinance to oppose illegal discrimination in Grand Rapids

The Grand Rapids Civil Rights ordinance proposed by Linc up (CRO) specifies that it is illegal to discriminate based on race, color, creed, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, gender, marital status, disability, height, weight, sexual orientation, gender identity, personal appearance, political affiliation, prior arrest or conviction record, source of income, family responsibility or any other discrimination based upon classifying a person which is not based upon factual data about the persons or group and is not related to the purpose for which it is used.

The Grand Rapids Civil Rights Ordinance prohibits discrimination in these areas:
- Labor Organization Membership and Referrals
- Employment, including employment agencies, employment information and employment advertisement
- Real estate, including rental, lease and sales
- Professional Organizations
- Lending
- Public Accommodations
- Public Service
- Educational Institutions
- Business
- Retaliation, including aiding and abetting discrimination, concealing discriminatory acts

COMPLAINT INVESTIGATIONS
Linc up proposed the City of Grand Rapids Dedicate resources to establishing a complaint investigations division to investigate complaints that have occurred in the City of Grand Rapids within 365 days of the alleged incident.

Points to Remember:
- Discrimination is a community concern. A person does not have to be affected directly by discrimination to file a complaint
- The act must occur in the City of Grand Rapids
- Parties must provide the Investigator with relevant dates, documents, witnesses, and other evidence that would help in the investigation

Jackie Hernandez writes down comunity imput at Civil Rights Town Hall

Jackie Hernandez writes down comunity imput at Civil Rights Town Hall /Elizabeth Rogers Drouillard

LINC UP Civil Rights Town Hall

LINC UP Civil Rights Town Hall /Elizabeth Rogers Drouillard

On Wednesday, April 18, 2018, more than 50 people attended a town hall at LINC UP to discuss a Civil Rights ordinance proposal for the City of Grand Rapids. Jeremy DeRoo, Executive Director of LINC UP opened the meeting and welcomed attendees.

Lyonel LaGrone, Policy Liaison of LINC UP, who’s spearheaded this proposal then gave a presentation on what the proposal entails, why it’s needed, and how they were looking for community input on the ordinance.

“As a policy liaison here at LINC, my job is to take community concerns and translate them into policy solutions. One of the things I heard when I started talking to people about this is, ‘I have all this experience, every time I go to find a job, they want to send me to a factory, but I do have office experience. I truly believe it’s because of discrimination,'" explained LaGrone.

When asked about which community groups and city departments LINC had spoken to when working on the ordinance, LaGrone and DeRoo detailed the conversations they’d had in preparation for writing the ordinance.

But LaGrone also emphasized the need to move forward with action. “I’m one of those people that left Grand Rapids because of discrimination. So I just don’t have a lot of faith in the traditional system. If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what we’ve always got. I think we have to get out of this acquiescing to the status quo. My thing is, we need to protect people. Grand Rapids is still known as one of the most racist cities in the country.”

Near the end of LaGrone’s presentation, community members started asking questions, including wondering how this city law would compare to other cities' laws, why it was necessary if federal law already prohibits discrimination and what the hope was for this new measure.

LaGrone answered, “My hope is that we have real protections and real investigations locally for people who’ve been victimized by discrimination. That it becomes a threat for an employer to discriminate. Right now, most employers are not rattled, at all, if people file a complaint of discrimination. We want people to know if your rights have been violated, that’s something they have to contend with. Also, it is my hope we move forward with establishing a Disability Rights Commission, that we move forward with establishing an ADA coordinator for the city. We have disability issues with sidewalks, with bus routes. I hear these stories over and over again.”

The meeting then broke into five groups, covering topics of concern covered in the ordinance including housing, employment, public accommodations (places like restaurants, parks), disabilities, and an all-emcompasing ‘other’ category. Attendees were asked to participate in the two break-out sessions of most interest to them.

The meeting concluded with each group reading a summary of their conversations. DeRoo noted LINC will be taking the feedback from commmunity members and emailing out a summarization of the evenings comments to attendees.

LaGrone said, "The next step in the process is to incorporate the community's feedback and put it back out to the community for review and getting it to the city commission."

For more information on the proposed ordinance email Lyonel LaGrone at [email protected]

 

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