This makes me proud to live in Grand Rapids.  On Tuesday night, the City Commission voted unanimously to approve the revised human rights ordinance.

The Grand Rapids Community Relations Commission originally brought the revised ordinance to the commission in April, and since then the city has been revising the recommendations based off the Community Relations Commissions suggestions along with the community feedback they received at public hearings,

Originally the update to the ordinance was to update and add to the protected classes but they also added “Bias Crime Reporting Prohibition" to the ordinance, that is, as the city called it, "trendsetting".

According to the city, the new ordinance:

  • Adds definitions for bias and retaliation to the list of definitions

  • Adds familial status – family makeup – to the list of protected classes

  • Expands membership of the Community Relations Commission to up to 13 members and provides clarity on the CRC’s role and responsibilities

  • Outlines complaint and referral procedures that the Office of Diversity & Inclusion, in collaboration with the City Attorney’s Office, will follow

  • Defines the referral process in more detail for investigations to be conducted by outside parties for complaints that fall under their jurisdiction, such as MDCR, Fair Housing and GRPD.

  • Adds language to allow the City Attorney’s Office and Office of Diversity and Inclusion to issue citations under the ordinance

  • Refines prohibitions on discrimination and Identified the 4 primary areas of discrimination

  • Adds reference to the City Code regarding false information to the “Bias Crime Reporting Prohibition” and makes it up to a $500 civil infraction to knowingly or recklessly report an individual, who is an actual or perceived member of a protected class, has committed, may commit or will commit a crime, if such report is based in whole or in part on the individuals' membership in a protected class and without reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.

  • Adds a retaliation section to protect individuals who bring forward complaints


The new chief of Police for GRPD, Eric Payne, said the new ordinance wasn't to deter people from reporting crimes when they see them.  His statement was the best and says it better than I could,

“We’ve always encouraged that. This will hopefully impact those who have hate in their hearts for whatever groups out there that solely call us to intervene in something that’s not criminal in nature."

City Manager Mark Washington also added,

 “I don’t want the public to be confused. In one sense we want cooperation, as the chief has said, in terms of solving crime and preventing crime but we also just as much as we’re anti-violence, we want to be anti-racism and anti-discrimination. You don’t have to pick one or the other; you can have both."

According to the city, the new, updated human rights ordinance will take effect on December 1st.

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