When Christine Root became vice chair of the Independent Police Oversight Commission in East Lansing in January 2022, she knew that it was important to look into the ways that institutions with power influence their communities. “Because police have the power to arrest people, and because they carry weapons, it’s an important agency to focus on,” Root said. “They have a lot of authority over people’s lives.”
Initially, the Human Rights Commission was responsible for taking complaints from the public regarding the East Lansing Police Department. As its role began to evolve in the community though, it met with City Council members and agreed that a separate commission needed to be created to handle situations related to the ELPD.
City Councilwoman Dana Watson was a member of the Human Rights Commission when it took complaints related to the police department. She values the importance of an independent oversight commission that is dedicated to handling complaints to serve the community.
When Karen Hoene joined the East Lansing Human Rights Commission to serve as commissioner, she knew that she wanted to create a safe place for individuals of protected classes. “I want people to know that if they are facing any sort of discrimination, as a protected class, that we have a place they can start by filing a complaint or bringing it to our attention,” Hoene said. “I don’t think a lot of people know that.”
Formerly a member of the East Lansing School Board, Hoene said she wanted to find a way to stay involved with the community civically and was appointed to the commission just over three years ago. When Hoene joined the commission, she came with new ideas to help community members feel comfortable bringing their human rights-related issues to the table. One of these ideas was for events she coined “Coffee and Conversation.”
“It’s an opportunity for community members to get together informally to discuss issues related to human rights and human relations in our community in a facilitated conversation,” Hoene said.
DISABLED VOTERS: Legislative efforts in Michigan and elsewhere to tighten voting requirements, reduce access to the polls, shorten voting hours and reduce the periods for early and absentee voting have a disproportionate adverse impact on people with disabilities, according to disabilities rights and voting rights advocates. The Legislature is considering bills to made it harder to get absentee ballots and to require voters to physically sign applications for absentee ballots. We talk to Disabilities Rights Michigan, the Ann Arbor city clerk who is an officer of the Association of Municipal Clerks and a Democratic lawmaker opposed to. Sponsors include legislators from Fort Gratiot, Howell, Six Lakes, Wolverine, Three Rivers, Adams Township and Portland. By Hope O’Dell. FOR FOWLERVILLE, STURGIS, THREE RIVERS, HOLLAND LANSING CITY PULSE, DETROIT, ALCONA, CHEBOYGAN, ALPENA, HILLSDALE, IONIA and ALL POINTS.
WOMEN BUSINESSES: Michigan ranked 9th in the country for new business loan applications, according to a recent study. Michigan Women Forward, an organization that helps women and people of color receive business loans, has seen a “two-fold” increase in approved loans over the last year, and currently has over 200 in progress. We also talk to the Small Business Association of Michigan and a Black female business owners in Detroit and Oak Park. For news and business sections. By Lindsay M. McCoy. FOR GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, DETROIT, CORP! and ALL POINTS.
LANSING – A Harvard historian’s book about slavery in Detroit – the last stop on the Underground Railroad for many escapees – examines how the region’s geography shaped that history. Author Tiya Miles, a Harvard University historian, recounts how the European settlement along the Detroit River and economic ventures in the “City of the Straits,” shaped slavery in Michigan. The fertile trade connection to the Great Lakes was ultimately an invitation to settle there for fur traders who owned slaves. The Dawn of Detroit: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straits (New Press) was published in 2017. It was among the books selected by the National Museum of the Great Lakes to launch the Toledo institution’s new regional book club.
MISSING & MURDERED: The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and the Bay Mills Indian Community are participating in a pilot project to created a database to track and resolve cases of missing and murdered tribal members. Open cases include the 2004 disappearance of a tribal woman in Kent County and the 1997 discovery of a dead baby in a campground latrine in Naubinway. The goal is to help tribal communities create and implement a response plan that follows FBI guidelines on how victim services, law enforcement agencies and media can better address the crisis. We learn about this response to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous People crisis from tribal representatives and a U.S. Justice Department official. A. By Lindsay M. McCoy: FOR SAULT STE. MARIE, BAY MILLS, ST. IGNACE, HARBOR SPRINGS, PETOSKEY, TRAVERSE CITY, MARQUETTE, IRON MOUNTAIN and ALL POINTS.
SPONGY MOTHS: The bothersome gypsy moth will now be known as the spongy moth. The Entomological Society of America made the change because the word “gypsy” is considered a derogatory slur against the Romani people. A DNR expert explains. By Max Copeland. FOR ALL POINTS.
AFRICAN AMERICAN GRADUATES: New data from the magazine Diverse: Issues in Higher Education show Michigan universities fall behind many of their peers nationally in the number of African American undergraduate and master’s students who receive degrees. U-M Ann Arbor, U-M Dearborn, Wayne State and MSU did make the top 25 in some categories. We talk to university officials and the Michigan Association of State Universities. By Jada Penn. FOR DETROIT, LANSING CITY PULSE and ALL POINTS.
POLICE DIVERSITY: Law enforcement agencies in Michigan are having trouble diversifying their personnel to better reflect the state’s population. We hear from criminal justice experts at Ferris State and Wayne State, the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police and the State Police, By Jack Falinski. FOR DETROIT, BIG RAPIDS, LANSING CITY PULSE and ALL POINTS.
GRADUATION RATES: New federal figures show the graduation rates for community colleges in the state, led by Alpena Community College and with Henry Ford Community College at the bottom and Glen Oaks College among those in between. But those figures are misleading, says the Michigan Center for Student Success at the Community College Association, in part because many students who enroll at them don’t plan to finish an associate degree there. By Hope O’Dell. FOR THREE RIVERS, STURGIS, ALPENA, ALCONA, MONTMORENCY, DETROIT, GREENVILLE, IONIA, PETOSKEY, TRAVERSE CITY, LEELANAU, HARBOR SPRINGS, MONROE, LANSING CITY PULSE, CLARE COUNTY and ALL POINTS.