Lansing, MI - Kelvin W. Scott, Director of the Michigan Department of
Civil Rights (MDCR), has issued the following statement on behalf of the
Department following recent alleged bias incidents in Portage and
Independence Township. Last week a teen in Portage was attacked outside
an apartment complex, allegedly because of his sexual orientation.
Yesterday, an African American family in Independence Township found a
burned cross outside their home. The burning of crosses is historically
a symbol of racial hatred, intimidation and violence in this country.
“The Department of Civil Rights is very alarmed by the two recent
alleged bias incidents on opposite sides of Michigan. While media
coverage indicates that law enforcement in both areas has been
responsive, we urge communities across the state to be proactive in
confirming the intolerance of hate. Although we know that law
enforcement and prosecutors must be allowed to discern the facts of the
specific cases, we also know that even the appearance of hate is enough
to cause lasting tensions within a community.
We urge local governments across the state to develop or update
policies and ordinances that both confirm the acceptance of diversity
and provide comprehensive protections for those within the jurisdiction.
Such announcements would serve as a clear indication that public leaders
understand the value of working together across personal backgrounds and
will not stand for the criminal expression of prejudice.
We also urge communities to form or reinvigorate their own human
relations commissions and support their work. Local education, economic,
social, faith-based and community leaders must set a tone for
appreciation in order to invite business and social investments from the
best and brightest of all personal backgrounds.
Lastly, we urge the Michigan Senate to join the Michigan Sheriffs’
Association, Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, Prosecuting
Attorneys Association of Michigan, and their colleagues in the Michigan
House by passing HB-4836 and sending it to the Governor for her
Michigan must remain committed to our common interest of recovery. Now
is not the time to let those focused on hate and division to speak on
behalf of our state.”
For more information on the Department of Civil Rights visit the
Department’s website at http://www.michigan.gov/mdcr.