GR commissioners approve human rights ordinance

Posted at 9:27 PM, Aug 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-27 21:27:41-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids commissioners unanimously approved a human rights ordinance at Tuesday night’s meeting.

The ordinance was proposed by the city’s Community Relations Council in April and was set for a vote in May but was postponed until Tuesday.  In that time, the ordinance has been updated based off feedback from commissioners and the community’s input at a public hearing.

City leaders say the ordinance shows that all people have a place in Grand Rapids, and it was important to put that in writing with a modern ordinance.

“We made a stand here today and said that people have the right to be here,” said Tommy Allen, chair of the community relations commission.

The approved ordinance will:

  • Add definitions for bias and retaliation
  • Add protections for discrimination based on family makeup
  • Expand the Community Relations Commission to 13 members
  • Outline complaint and referral procedures for the city’s attorney’s office and office of diversity and inclusion to follow
  • Allow the city’s attorney and diversity offices to issue citations

Calls made to police based on biases are also targeted in the new law.

People who are found to have made unnecessary calls to police based on racism or discrimination can receive up to a $500 fine. Police and dispatchers will also receive training to identify why a call is being made.

There are also protections in place for people who come forward with complaints.

The ordinance will go into effect Dec. 1. The Community Relations Commission will use that time to educate people on the new law.