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Grand Rapids is holding a public hearing on proposed updates to civil rights ordinance

downtown Grand Rapids
Steven Depolo
Creative Commons
Calder plaza in downtown Grand Rapids

The city of Grand Rapids is holding a public hearing Tuesday evening to discuss proposed changes to its civil rights ordinance.

One change to the ordinance would make it illegal to call the police on people of color when they aren’t doing anything wrong. Doing so would be a misdemeanor if the city adopts the changes.

The proposed changes would also clarify the process for residents to file civil rights complaints, and outline what might happen after filing.

The City Commission hearing is at 7pm at its biweekly regular session at City Hall. The Commission doesn't plan on voting on this proposal tonight, just hearing from residents. 

Ladonna Norman, a community activist in Grand Rapids, says this is a chance for the city to lead by example when it comes to fighting racist behavior.

“We could be one of those cities that breaks the cycle and we could become the change that’s needed,” Norman said.

Norman, who frequents City Commission meetings, says the ordinance will help average residents bring their complaints to city officials more easily.

“You shouldn’t have to be a part of an organization or stand in front of a podium every other week to get their attention,” she said.

The proposed ordinance also looks to remove discriminatory housing practices. Violating the ordinance would be punishable by a fine of up to $500 each day the violation continues.

Hear Stateside's conversation with Lyonel LaGrone, chief author of this proposal, above. 

Bryce Huffman was Michigan Radio’s West Michigan Reporter and host of Same Same Different. He is currently a reporter for Bridge Detroit.
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