We continue to be thankful for our Elected Officials, Candidates and Law Enforcement Officials who participated in our October 22, 2020 Public Meeting to build this partnership with us, while committing to take actions to work toward racial justice and building the Beloved Community. We recognize and honor the anti-racism work that has already been set in motion by organizations, institutions, and public leaders. We continue to support that work and seek to expand it through the asks requested that night in partnership with our community. We believe these asks will benefit our community, law enforcement, and public officials by: enabling deeper communication and a shared understanding of systemic racism; promoting greater trust, improving collaboration, and developing antiracist policies, practices, and relationships. We understand this is ongoing work and look forward to keeping all collaboratively updated.
Task Force Visits:
A special thank you to Director Josh Hilgart, Prosecutor Jeff Getting, City Manager Jim Ritsema, Director Dorla Bonner and Captain Matt Elzinga standing in for Chief Vernon Coakley who was ill, for visiting our Anti-Racism Task Force Meeting to share what is already being done in their respective departments/organizations around items such as anti-racism work, education, training, trust and transparency. We encourage them, if they have not already, to share beyond our Anti-Racism Task Force meeting their great work already being done. Collaboratively we have much work to still do, and we look forward to reporting out on the progress of our continued work together with the City of Kalamazoo, including KDPS, the Prosecutor’s office and the Defender’s office in the months to come.
Workshop – Latinx Community: cultures, struggles and more – March 25th and April 14th
ISAAC held our 2020 Public Meeting on October 22nd and invited Law Enforcement, Attorneys and Officials to attend the workshop, Latinx Community: cultures, struggles and more, facilitated by Adrian Vazquez and Lissette Mira Amaya from El Concilio. We are hosting 3 offerings of this workshop, March 25th, April 14th and the third in May. We want to send gratitude to attendees of these first 2 offerings: US Attorney Erin Lane, Deputy Manager Laura Lam, Director Rebekah Kik, Director Dorla Bonner, Portage Chief Nick Armold, Prosecutor Jeff Getting and Director Josh Hilgart. We look forward to sharing with you soon about our May workshop and attendees. We understand that trainings must be ongoing, and we are looking forward to hosting follow-up workshops where El Concilio facilitates. A special thank you to El Concilio, under the leadership of Adrian Vazquez for the life changing work they do especially during this time of blatant racism towards the Latinx community and immigrants. Workshops such as these can help to increase our cultural competency, strengthen our anti-racism lens and support effective allyship for us all.
Anti-Racism, Equity, Empowerment & Accountability Zoom Workshop for Elected Officials – April 14th and April 29th
ISAAC held our 2020 Public Meeting on October 22nd and offered an ask to US, State, City and County Elected Officials to commit to attend the: Anti-Racism, Equity, Empowerment & Accountability workshop, facilitated by Rev. Catoya Roberts, from Wisconsin. We have hosted two out of the three of our offerings, on April 14th and April 29th. The third offering will be May 20th and we look forward to reporting about Elected Official attendees. A special thank you for those who have already attended: Commissioner Jeanne Hess, Commissioner Chris Praedel, Mayor David Anderson, Commissioner Jack Urban, Rep. Julie Rogers, County Clerk Meredith Place, County Chair Tracy Hall, Vice Chair Tami Rey, and County Commissioner Fran Bruder, County Commissioner Zac Bauer, and County Commissioner Jen Strebs. This is not meant to serve as a box checking opportunity, but instead the purpose is to start having intentional discussions and self-reflection about how we ensure anti-racism & accountability are always applied in our governing actions. After reviewing Elected Officials’ evaluations, we read that participants wanted to go deeper. So we deepened the accountability section for our workshops number two and three. We have encouraged participants from our first workshop to take time to reflect and answer these questions and to share with colleagues. We are always happy to touch base for dialogue as well. For those Elected Officials who have already attended, just a friendly reminder, we are asking that you share publicly and verbally with your constituents, your own learnings, takeaways and commitments around anti-racism and accountability.
The next big topic of our meeting is the organization of a voter Suppression Electronic Letter Campaign to put pressure on federal and state elected officials. Already in 2021, more than 250 bills in 43 states have been introduced by state legislators that create additional unnecessary barriers to voting. Under the guise of “election integrity,” many of these bills target voters of color and young voters already facing many barriers to the ballot box. Specifically we discussed The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act 2020 (H.R. 4) and the For The People Act 2021 (H.R.1).
Of local concern is the news that on Wednesday March 24th Michigan Republicans introduced a package of election bills that would bring a large number of voting restrictions to the state. Our action is needed today! The ARTF is in the process of organizing a letter writing campaign to put pressure on both state and federal elected officials regarding the above mentioned legislation. In order to protect voter rights in both Michigan and across the country, these letters will show support for the passage of federal H.R. 1 and H.R. 4, while also looking to halt the consideration of bills introduced here in Michigan that could bring more voter restrictions. This is a community wide effort! Please see https://fairfight.com/how-to-help for actions you can take. The ARTF will also be providing guidance for letter writing to your elected officials on the ISAAC website.
ISAAC will be soon reaching out in opposition to leaders around Michigan specific voter suppression efforts.
Lastly, Ashante Collins shared updates from Advocates and Leaders For Police and Community Trust (ALPACT). On February 25th ALPACT heard a presentation from Carlton T. Mayers, II, Esp. on “Community Empowerment-Centered Policing Reforms Solutions” And specifically introduced the CAT (Community, Accountability and Transparency) method. Three specific aspects of the CAT method were highlighted: 1) encouraging community presence at meetings; often with voting power to act, 2) psychological evaluations for applicants and candidates up for promotion, and 3)., ensuring all groups work together in a way that highlights transparency regarding thoughts, planning and actions.
-Denise Hartsough, Wendy King and Dr. Charlae Davis