April 23 public hearing set on proposed human rights ordinance

Published on April 09, 2019


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The City Commission this afternoon voted unanimously to schedule a public hearing on a proposed human rights ordinance for Tuesday, April 23. The approval, which came during the Commission’s Committee of the Whole meeting, is expected to be finalized at today’s 7 p.m. meeting.

The public hearing will take place during the Commission’s 7 p.m. meeting April 23 in the ninth-floor Commission Chambers at City Hall, 300 Monroe Ave. NW. Validated parking is available in the Government Center Ramp off Monroe and Ottawa avenues.  

The ordinance would replace the City’s current community relations ordinance. The proposed human rights ordinance includes:

  • Expanded definition section for clarity and transparency
  • Four primary potential areas of discrimination
  • New bias crime reporting prohibition, making it a criminal misdemeanor to racially profile people of color for participating in their lives
  • Outlines and identifies exemptions based of legal standards
  • Outlines complaint procedures and referral procedures for the City’s Diversity and Inclusion Office in collaboration with the City Attorney’s Office
  • Outlines the injunctive relief for violations of the ordinance that were previously implied

The proposed human rights ordinance is available HERE. In addition to the public hearing, community members may provide written comments on the ordinance by emailing the Community Relations Commission at crc@grcity.us or by calling the City’s Diversity and Inclusion Office at 616.456.3027. 

The City’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, City Attorney’s Office and Grand Rapids Community Relations Commission (CRC) was approached in June 2018 by staff from LINC Up – a local community development organization – with a request to revise the current ordinance. The ordinance most recently was updated in 2015 to update and incorporate protection for community members based on gender identity.  

A CRC subcommittee was created to review the ordinance and propose recommended changes. The multi-racial, multi-cultural, and multi-generational subcommittee researched similar ordinances in other cities across the state and in the Midwest. It also met with partner investigative agencies, including the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, Fair Housing Center of Western Michigan and Disability Advocates of Kent County. 

“The Grand Rapids Community Relations Commission has a rich history of community engagement and human rights,” said Patti Caudill, manager of the Diversity and Inclusion Office who serves as staff liaison to the CRC. “This proposed ordinance has been developed with a community focus and it centers the work of the CRC around the needs and concerns of our community.”

The CRC was established in 1953 through ordinance by then-Mayor Paul Goebel. It is the longest-serving civil rights commission in the state.

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