Michigan city to make calling police on people of colour due to racial bias illegal

Narjas Zatat@Narjas_Zatat
Friday 26 April 2019 13:15
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Picture:(BBQ Becky)

#LivingWhileBlack is a hashtag that’s gotten hundreds of accounts of racial bias against black people – and one Michigan has had enough of the abuse.

People have been using it to shine light on the disproportionate incidents of police being called on African Americans who are doing everyday things like cooking and meeting at Starbucks.

Residents of Grand Rapids are proposing to update its civil rights ordinance and make it an offence that could result in a fine, to call the police motivated by ‘racial bias.’

They spoke in favour of proposed changes at a public meeting and they’re eager for a number of changes to be voted through.

Among them is a change that would make it illegal to call the police on “people of colour for living their lives”.

Phillip Atiba Goff, president of the Centre for Policing Equity told The Washington Post:

 What’s unique is that there’s an explicit element of race in this.

It’s speaking directly to this wave of viral incidents of ‘living while black.’ There’s a lot of good that comes from the writing of a statute like that. It acknowledges that there’s a history of this.

The section on “biased crime reporting” would make it a criminal misdemeanour punishable by up to a $500 (£387) to call the police on “people of colour and other protected classes who have not done anything wrong”.

“If you’re in a park or see someone coming through the neighbourhood who doesn’t look like you, check your bias before you call the police,” said Patricia Caudill, the city’s diversity and inclusion manager.

He added that he’s “absolutely not telling people not to call the police” but rather to only do so if people genuinely feel like they’re in harm’s way.

Kymie Spring, a community organiser with the Creston Neighbourhood Association is one of the residents who support the changes:

But we don’t want people to look at someone as the way they look, and then complain to me or the police that they shouldn’t be on their street or on their block.

Another proposed change is removing discriminatory housing practices.

City Manager Mark Washington says the commission could vote on the proposal on 14 May.

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