GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan — Blacks in America may need to be forgiven for feeling paralyzed and post-traumatic at times. Most are not only frightened about being pulled over by the police and emerging unscathed — which could depend on the officer’s disposition and demographics. Blacks also have to worry about conducting official business in predominantly White neighborhoods or even engaging in leisure activities like barbecuing, or selling hotdogs within detection range of any nosy or cantankerous Caucasian.
Blacks’ consternation, paranoia and outright outrage are not only with the people who harass them regularly. It is mostly with the moderate majority whose deafening silence in the face of these social atrocities helps embolden people of authority and “privilege” to continue their antisocial, barbaric behavior against Blacks.
Grand Rapids in Western Michigan could soon be the first city in America to have an ordinance to eliminate this practice. If passed, its ordinance would make it a crime to racially profile and call 911 on Blacks and other minorities for frivolous reasons — or for just “participating in their lives,” according to Fox17online.com.
The “bias crime reporting prohibition” is part of the proposed human rights ordinance. Grand Rapids could vote on the proposal next month, but they first held an open discussion on the topic at their April 23 commission meeting.
“We in the community have had various conversations over the last few years about disparities that exist in Grand Rapids,” Jeremy DeRoo, executive director of the non-profit advocacy group LINC Up, told MLive.com.
“The human rights ordinance provides the infrastructure so that all these issues have a backbone supporting and addressing them. It creates a way to address a broad range of problems and to correct them.”
DeRoo said he and many others are well aware that Grand Rapids police have been dispatched to situations due to 911 calls that could be blamed on the person’s biases against Blacks and other people of color.
“Often times, the Grand Rapids Police Department ends up being caught in the middle of what is a bigger community problem,” DeRoo told MLive. “They look bad because they approach individuals who are people of color, and it appears the police department is biased when really they’re responding to phone calls made by the community and it appears that a number of those are motivated by people in a discriminatory way.”
Diversity and Inclusion Manager Patti Caudill said the ordinance, which would be the first in the state of Michigan, is not meant to dissuade people from calling 911. Rather, it’s meant to make people “check their biases” before calling the police.
“Call the police, but 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.
The proposed ordinance would make it a misdemeanor crime punishable by up to $500 and would be determined by the city attorney’s office, Essence magazine reported.