At a sparsely attended Monday, Feb. 13 meeting of the East Lansing Human Rights Commission (HRC), commissioners planned upcoming coffee and conversation sessions and heard a presentation from Mayors for Peace, an organization promoting nuclear disarmament.
Commissioners spent little time discussing the civil rights of a resident who was allegedly evicted from a DTN property because of ongoing settlement negotiations.
With Commissioners Jacqueline Beaupre and Krystal Davis-Dunn and council liaison Mayor Ron Bacon absent, the commission moved quickly through its business, beginning with public comment.
Chris Root, vice chair of the East Lansing Independent Police Oversight Commission, gave an update on that commission’s workings. She reported a best practices session focusing on use of force is being planned for March 29 and will be co-sponsored by the Michigan State University College of Law. Speakers will include Angie Weis Gammell, policy director of the Wilson Center for Science and Justice at Duke Law School, and Sean Holland of Black Lives Matter and One Love Global.
John Metzler from the Peace Education Center of Greater Lansing at 1120 S. Harrison Road, gave a presentation on behalf of Mayors for Peace, encouraging East Lansing to join its growing roster of cities dedicated to the promotion of nuclear disarmament. He said he is planning on speaking to both the East Lansing and Lansing governments in the coming weeks.
“It’s a very simple form,” Metzler said. “And for all of 2,000 yen a year, about $15.30, East Lansing could join the organization. The START treaty is coming up for discussion in the next year and we’re hoping East Lansing will make its voice heard.”
Human Rights Commissioner Thasin Sardar made a motion for Mayor Bacon to bring the invitation to the city council to discuss and it passed unanimously.
During staff updates, Elaine Hardy, East Lansing Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, said an East Lansing LGBTQ+ Pride event would be held on June 10. The event was held for the first time last year.
Hardy also said nine applicants had applied for the vacant seats on the HRC and three had been chosen. The appointments of Joshua Hewitt, Kayla Gomez and Tina Farhat were approved during the Monday, Feb. 21 City Council meeting. Farhat had applied to be considered for the vacant council seat in December of last year.
The sole item listed under old business, the complaint lodged against DTN, was mentioned only in passing, with Hardy indicating a recommendation to settle was in the works.
The commission discussed plans for upcoming monthly coffee and conversation sessions, the next to be held Sunday, Feb. 26 at PappaRoti,1000 Trowbridge Road, and centering on reproductive justice. The March event will focus on Women’s History Month with plans to address the situation in Iran. April’s session will coincide with Autism Awareness Month and look into disability justice.
A short conversation regarding the idea of restorative justice, a practice that has been under discussion in the ongoing disciplinary issues at East Lansing High School, was held before the meeting adjourned.
Restorative justice as a practice brings together both the offender and the victim with objective members of the community to discuss what happened, who was hurt, and how the offender can right the wrong and any punishment that may be appropriate.
“Restorative justice is an idea that people don’t understand,” said Karen Hoene, vice chair of the commission, while saying that the practice should not be given up on. “Restorative justice is not just for school districts.”
“And it doesn’t work when only the school board or administrators know about it,” added chair Liz Miller.