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Ypsilanti mayor steps down after City Council calls for her resignation over her own admitted racism

Man with a mike addresses a crowd with picket signs in the street.
Tyler Scott
Ypsilanti resident Brian Foley addresses Monday's protest echoing calls for Mayor Beth Bashert to resign, and encouraging people to speak out against racial injustice

Updated June 23, 2020 at 12:29 p.m.: 

Tuesday morning, Ypsilanti Mayor Beth Bashert posted on Facebook that she was resigning as mayor. 

"I am deeply sorry to have my service end on this note and in this way. Sadly, as a result of my actions, there is healing to do to ensure that all residents, including Black, Indigenous, and people of color, enjoy full equity in Ypsilanti. That is what I want for our City," she wrote in her Facebook post. "I had hoped to participate in that healing process, going forward."

Original post, June 23, 2020:

All six Ypsilanti City Council Members joined protesters downtown Monday to call on Mayor Beth Bashert to resign after she admitted to making racist comments during a city council meeting.

Bashert said in a meeting last week she’d be “crucified” if she voted against putting any black person on a city commission.

In a Facebook post the next day, Bashert apologized for making the “biased” statement and allowing the bias to affect her vote. Bashert wrote that she has “made a number of mistakes around race and racism while being Mayor.” She said she felt shame, writing that she will continue taking action to educate herself about racism.

Bashert did not return interview requests. Ypsilanti Mayor Pro Tem Lois Richardson and others at the protest criticized Bashert’s actions toward some Black city workers.

“Every time a Black person on a commission came up for re-appointment, she would take them off, she wouldn’t re-appoint them,” said Richardson.  

Richardson addressed Monday’s protest crowd next to Ypsilanti City Hall, saying she long believed Bashert was racist.

“She came right out with this most blatant racist thing that she’s ever said,” Richardson said in regards to Bashert’s comments at the meeting.

The council were considering the re-appointment of Ka’Ron Gaines to Ypsilanti’s Human Resources council when Bashert made the remarks she later admitted were racist. According to MLive, Ypsilanti City Manager Frances McMullan, a Black woman, says she’s filed a complaint to the city attorney about the mayor’s behavior toward her.

Council Member Nicole Brown said she met with Bashert to express her feelings about what should be done to rectify the harm Brown says the mayor has caused certain people with her remarks and behaviors. But Brown says the mayor hasn’t changed.

“We see now why those conversations did not stick,” Brown said. “It wasn’t about learning or growing. It was about the covert racism within her which she’s openly stated to the world.”  

As cities across the state and nation continue to see protests against police brutality and systemic racism, Brown joined Richardson and fellow councilmembers Jennifer Symanns, Steve Wilcoxen, Anthony Morgan and Annie Somerville, in calling for Bashert’s resignation.

“We really have an opportunity now to move us in a new direction,” Brown said, addressing the crowd. “Thank you … for asking the mayor to resign, and prioritizing the community over her personal growth.”

Bashert wrote in her apologetic social media post, in part, “I am a racist person because I was raised in a racist culture and because I am an imperfect human being. I care deeply about confronting racism, yet that does not mean I am not racist. I am trying to confront racism in myself.”

Symanns and Richardson said they talked with Bashert immediately before joining the protest and informed her they’d be asking for her resignation.

Protesters marched from downtown to Riverside Park, where speakers addressing the diverse crowd encouraged each other to confront racism and work actively to promote equity and inclusion.

Hesta Waller-Randolph was did not attend the protest, but was leaving a nearby parking lot as it began. Asked her opinion of Bashert, Waller-Randolph said the mayor should resign, and said she has concerns about how people of color are treated by the administration.

Waller-Randolph says she’s watched people of color working for the city be replaced, or struggle to find advancement opportunities. She supports McMullan, who was formerly Ypsilanti Clerk, for filing a complaint against the mayor.

“I’ve worked with (McMullan). I worked the polls. I’ve worked pretty closely with them. There’s been so much going on down there that nobody really wants to work with the city anymore,” Waller-Randolph said. 

Tyler Scott is the weekend afternoon host at Michigan Public, though you can often hear him filling in at other times during the week. Tyler started in radio at age 18, as a board operator at WMLM 1520AM in Alma, Michigan, where he later became host of The Morning Show.
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