MASON, MI (WLNS) – A Mason city council member is facing an ethics investigation sparked by her proposal for a “Malcolm X Day of Observation.”

Malcolm X spent much of his childhood in Lansing and East Lansing, and went to high school in Mason.

In February, council member Rita Vogel presented the resolution, which marked the human rights leader as an “iconic member of Mason’s history.”

It went on to say “Malcolm X raised important questions about the inequities faced by Blacks during that time. With this resolution, we are in a time of truth for real history, honesty and real conversation. And a part of that must start with us having a reckoning around Mason’s role.”

The motion was voted down, with some council members concerned over the way the resolution was written.

City documents indicate that on Feb. 14, the board of ethics got a complaint against Vogel. The complaint claims Vogel said the city is “racist and white supremacist because we {the council} didn’t vote in Malcolm X day.”

Malcolm X (top row, middle,) on Mason’s football team.

In a statement to 6 News, Vogel said this investigation is ridiculous.

“Freedom of speech is not an ethics violation that needs an investigation.  The city government that allows for this to be investigated maybe should be. This is a waste of staff time. Malcolm X deserves better. ”

During a February 6 meeting, Vogel presented the resolution and said there was a need for larger minority representation.

“Gatekeeping representation by refusing to create space for people of color in Mason is white supremacy,” said Vogel.

Overall, five members voted ‘no’ including Mayor Russell Whipple, who said the way the resolution was written was one of his concerns.

“I’m not a racist and I’m not a white supremacist and I didn’t appreciate her saying our citizens or the city is racist. That’s just not proper,” said Vicki Whipple. She and her husband are the ones that filed a complaint against Councilmember Rita Vogel.

Vicki and Tom Whipple say comments made by Vogel don’t sit well with them.

Tom Whipple is a second cousin of the mayor.

In their ethics complaint from February 14, they claimed Vogel said Mason was “racist” and “white supremacist” because a resolution recognizing the human rights leader was voted down.

The complaint goes on to say “Malcolm X lived in Mason for a little over a year and didn’t contribute much of anything in remembrance here to celebrate.”

“I mean I know he fought for the Black people but some of his other backgrounds there seemed pretty nasty, yeah pretty radical,” said Tom.

Following the complaint, city documents show that ethics board members could not find the codes the Whipples accused Vogel of violating.

They reached out to the couple several times for an amended complaint but they never got one.

A timeline provided by city officials said the complaint included codes that did not exist in the Code of Ethics.

The timeline adds the complainants did not amend the report by April 5, the deadline board members gave. Board members said they reached out multiple times to the complainants, but have yet to receive a specific code violation.

According to City Manager Deborah Stuart, any citizen can file a complaint and the board must investigate each chase. The complaint will be reviewed against a code of ethics before the board makes a recommendation.