Grand Rapids officials hope to charge petty racists who abuse 911

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Lawmakers in Grand Rapids, Mich., are pushing for an ordinance that would make it a criminal misdemeanor for folks who abuse 911 with calls about people of color “participating in their lives.”

In other words, Michigan has had enough of the BBQ Beckys of the word and folks whose racial profiling has led to the police-involved injury or death of numerous, non-violent and unarmed Black folks.

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The city aims to make several adjustments to its proposed human rights ordinance and “bias crime reporting prohibition” is one of a handful of components, according to MLive.com.

The outlet lists the proposed changes, which include:

  • Expanding the definition section to provide for clarity and transparency.
  • Identifying four primary potential areas of discrimination, which are discriminatory practices in housing, employment, contracting, and bias crime reporting. Each area has its own section in the ordinance.
  • Adding a “bias crime reporting prohibition” and making it a criminal misdemeanor to racially profile people of color for participating in their lives.

A violation of the ordinance could be punishable by up to a $500 fine per day, according to ABC 12.

A vote on the proposal could come next month as city stakeholders are expected to address the matter during a public hearing on April 23 at City Hall.

In recent years, Grand Rapids police have been dispatched to scenes where the 911 calls made were clearly motivated by bias or discrimination, the report states,

Jeremy DeRoo, executive director of the non-profit advocacy group LINC Up, noted how the city has began to take notice of just how biased the police department appears when approaching individuals of color, and all they’re doing is responding to 911 calls made by the community. More and more often, it appears that many of the calls are motivated by bias, racism and discrimination.

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Police have reportedly given feedback on the proposed ordinance, but not in the form of “official written feedback,” says Diversity and Inclusion Manager Patti Caudill. She has made it clear that the ordinance is meant to make people “check their biases” before calling the police.

“If you’re calling because your neighbors are having a barbecue and you’re calling because of some implicit bias because they’re people of color, we don’t want to see that,” she said.

 

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