City Council hears from Sheriff Swanson and unanimously passes two resolutions for support of Black Lives Matter and to thwart Police Brutality

By Tom Travis

The City Council considered two resolutions in response to the recent national outcry over George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis: a resolution to declare Black Lives Matter and an ordinance for the duty of police officers to intervene in cases of police brutality.

A resolution brought by the City Administration and Mayor Sheldon Neeley to close streets downtown to assist in social distancing as restaurants and shops openned was dropped at the request of the City Administrator.

Sheriff Swanson touts Zero arrests and Zero fires in past eight days

In response to a request by Councilperson Eric Mays (1st Ward), Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson was present to answer questions relative to the state of emergency.  Flint Police Chief Phil Hart also was present, as he usually is for all City Council meetings.

Swanson stated that in the last eight days the Genesee County Sheriff’s Department has made zero arrests and that there have been zero injuries and zero fires. Swanson added that there have been zero COVID-19 infections in the jail throughout the entire pandemic.

Mays asked Swanson to specify what his title was in the state of emergency during the pandemic. Swanson stated that he is the Sheriff for Genesee County which includes the City of Flint, but he also carries the title of Emergency Managment Coordinator as of March 2020 given to him by the Board of Genesee County Commissioners in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sheriff Chris Swanson marches with protesters at one of several recent protest marches in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police. (Photo by Tom Travis)

A resolution declaring Black Lives Matter

The council considered and passed a resolution to declare Black Lives Matter.

The resolution reads in part, “acknowledging the diverse community of Flint that the City of Flint condemns racial inequity in general and violence against the Black community by law enforcement in particular.”

Protester raises a Black Lives Matter sign at a recent protest on Miller Road in Flint Township. (Photo by Tom Travis)

“The City of Flint does not tolerate discrimination, racial injustice, or police brutality, the City of Flint declares that Black Lives Matter and the City of Flint will urge local, state and national elected officials to develop policies that revive and reinvest in community outreach and policing.”

The resolution passed on a nine yes, zero no vote.  The entire ordinance can be viewed at the end of this article.

A resolution declaring a “duty to intervene” in cases of police brutality

Another resolution the council considered and passed was a resolution to support the implementation of a “duty to intervene” in cases of police brutality.

The resolution recalled recent events like the murder of George Floyd and Breona Taylor. It stated in part, “Whereas, these shocking and unwarranted deaths among countless others call for a reform across the Country and locally due to systemic racism that has gone without redress. The City of Flint Police Department is renewing and rededicating its solemn oath to serve and to protect the citizenry and all who enter the boundaries of the City of Flint.”

Protester at a protest on Miller Road in Flint Township. (Photo by Tom Travis)

“To demonstrate this renewal and rededication and further begin to rebuild trust in community, the City of Flint Police deparment under the leadership of Chief Phil Hart, and in accordance with Flint City Ordinance 2-79 will adopt the Duty to Intervene as a part of its current Code of Conduct and Employee Discipline Policy. The Duty to Intervene shall require sworn and unsworn employees, present at any scene where physical force is being applied, to either stop, or attempt to stop another employee, when force is being inappropriately applied or no longer required.”

The resolution passed on a nine yes, zero no vote. The entire resolution can be viewed at the end of this article.

Emergency extension of the marijuana ordinance

In an April 13 City Council meeting, the council voted to extend for 60 days the Emergency Marijuana Ordinance. That extension is due to expire on Friday, June 12.

The Michigan legislature approved the use, sale and production of recreational marijuana in December 2018. Municipalities had the option of opting in or opting out of using state guidelines.

Flint has chosen to opt in for creating recreational marijuana industry within city limits. The city council passed an emergency ordinance in December of 2019 to be able to have more time to develop detailed guidelines for the city.

The extension approved Monday will expire on Aug. 12, 2020.

The City Administration drops a resolution they brought to council to close downtown streets in order to assist with social distancing

A resolution to close some downtown streets was dropped by the City Administrator. It had been brought to city council by Neeley and his administration to consider the closure of streets in order to facilitate social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

City Administrator Clyde Edwards stated during the discussion of the resolution that the administration was requesting it be dropped until a later date. City Attorney Angela Wheeler added that the resolution “is not ready to come before council.” Wheeler stated that there were “some other things” to look at before it could be considered.

Black Lives Matter declaration resolution by the City of Flint.

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The Duty to Intervene resolution by the City of Flint.

[pdf-embedder url=”https://www.eastvillagemagazine.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Duty-to-Intervene-resolution.pdf” title=”Duty to Intervene resolution”]

EVM Assistant Editor and City Beat reporter Tom Travis can be reached at tomntravis@gmail.com.

 

 

Author: Tom Travis

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