Grand Rapids Stacy Stout

Stacy Stout, the city’s director of Equity and Engagement, gives a presentation on Sept. 14, 2021. 

(The Center Square) – Grand Rapids is considering naming racism a public health crisis to “center and prioritize anti-racism.”

City staff spent more than 200 hours prepping three draft resolutions presented Tuesday: one to declare a climate crisis, the second to support the decriminalization of entheogenic substances, such as magic mushrooms, and the third to name racism a public health emergency.

Stacy Stout, the city’s director of Equity and Engagement, argued the racism resolution is important because it “speaks Truth & Honor Lived Experiences” and it will “Center and Prioritize Anti-Racism,” she said in a presentation.

Stout says the resolution provides “Affirmation and Healing,” leverages resources, and inspires “local, state, and federal policy and investments that undo racism.”

Stout notes the city has boosted direct equity investments with $25.6 million for fiscal year 2022, an increase from $14 million from the prior fiscal year. Another investment is the creation and funding of the Office of Equity and Engagement, Office of Oversight and Public Accountability, and Office of Sustainability and Performance Management, Grand Rapids spokesman Steve Guitar told The Center Square in an email.

Stout pointed to programs in 2021 such as Undoing Racism Training, Equity Champions Cohort, and working with equity training through Grand Valley State University as wins toward improving city equity.

The commission is scheduled to vote on the resolution on September 28.

MLive reported: “If approved, the draft resolution presented to the Grand Rapids City Commission on Tuesday, Sept. 14, would urge local organizations, businesses, units of government and individuals to use their influence to ‘dismantle racism and apply a public health framework to those efforts.’”

Some believe that time and money could be spent better, such as recruiting a new police chief replacement for Chief Eric Payne, who’s retiring early next year. Grand Rapids saw a record of 38 homicides in 2020, doubling the prior year's 18 homicides. Gun violence spiked 80%, the city says.

“The people of Grand Rapids expect their tax dollars to be used in a thoughtful manner, not squandered on meaningless resolutions,” the Michigan Rising Action Executive Director Eric Ventimiglia said in a statement. “Grand Rapids residents rely on their city commission to create policies focused on public safety and helping their economy rebound. It is time for the commission to prioritize the real issues affecting the city.”

Staff Reporter

Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.