Lansing City Council passes racial justice and equity plan; gets mixed response


LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) $300,000 will now go toward addressing racial justice and equity concerns within the Lansing city government, But not all council members or residents are on board with the plan.

Some say tonight’s vote is a step towards creating a more inclusive city government, while others say the city went about this the wrong way.

“This is a starting point and this is a concrete plan that’s going to work to develop the capacity so we can do more of this work in the city,” Peter Spadafore, a Lansing city council member.

Tonight, the Lansing city council passed a resolution dedicating $300,000 of the city budget to the racial justice and equity plan.

But that decision was reached amid controversy.

“Where’s the accountability? The real accountability? Not more training, not more sitting down asking people what the problems are,” said Mike Lynn jr., a Lansing Black Lives Matter Activist.

The mayor’s racial justice and equity alliance conducted an internal assessment of the city government by talking with city employees across different departments, analyzing policies and sending out an organization-wide survey.

One of the proposals is to establish a permanent diversity equity and inclusion board to work with the city to implement a DEI plan.

But tonight, some council members say the city’s discussions regarding the diversity plan were done behind closed doors and included some non-disclosure agreements.

“Participants required to sign an NDA, and policies and procedures that affect city employees and city residents have to be done in the light of day so that folks trust the process,” said Lansing City Councilmember Patricia Spitzley.

“There’s a lot of folks who didn’t participate because of fear of repercussions and retaliation so the survey samples are low,” said Lansing City Councilmember Kathie Dunbar.

However, a majority of council members voted to pass this plan.

“We have to start somewhere and this is what’s been presented before us as a spending priority,” said Peter Spadafore of the Michigan Association of Superintendents & Administrators.

But the final vote wasn’t reached without push back from the public.

“I would’ve liked to see perhaps community-appointed officials because it felt sort of hand-picked and the NDA’s don’t really help with that,” said one Lansing resident.

An official with the Lansing branch of the NAACP told 6 News that they do not have a comment on the racial justice and equity plan as of tonight, but the organization plans to look into it and the intentions behind it and will share a statement with 6 News once that’s complete.

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