City Officials, Grassroots Groups Join to Declare: ‘This is not our Lansing’
As midnight approached on Wednesday, July 5, the Lansing Police Department received a report of an assault on a Latino man that was potentially motivated by ethnicity; it’s been treated as a hate crime investigation since the moment officers arrived at the scene. Yet, elected officials and an assortment of activists, advocates, agencies and institutions united this past Tuesday, July 18, at City Hall, sparking the beginning of a swift, tangible response to the possibly hate-motivated crime.
Organizations present included the City of Lansing Human Relations & Community Services, Action of Greater Lansing, Black Lives Matter, Latino Leaders for the Enhancement of Advocacy and Development (LLEAD), the Immigrant and Refugee Resource Collaborative, the MSU Office for Inclusion & Intercultural Initiatives and more. Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero also joined the presser, emphasizing that Lansing doesn’t just tolerate diversity — it celebrates diversity.
“We are, for all intents and purposes, a sanctuary city,” said Mayor Bernero. “And … it is the community that made that happen. We do not condone, nor do we accept, a single act of hatred against any individual.”
Mayor Bernero was joined by the Lansing Police Department’s Chief Michael Yankowski, Lansing City Councilperson Kathie Dunbar, LLEAD’s Elva Reyes and Thasin Sardar from the Islamic Center of East Lansing, as well as a host of other community members and leaders standing against hatred of any kind.
Yankowski clarified that no arrests have been made thus far; while a sketch of a possible suspect was incoming, community engagement — a concept surrounding community policing — could play a crucial role moving forward.
“We do not tolerate hate crimes here, in the city of Lansing, especially based upon one’s race, gender, age, ethnicity [or] sexual orientation,” said Yankowski. “And we will utilize all available federal, state, county and local resources in our investigation.”
Dunbar called for active listening, care and participation against activities rooted against collective values, as opposed to only reacting to situations as they arrive on the community’s doorstep.
“What happened here, this is not our Lansing … it is our responsibility … to step forward and check it,” Dunbar said. “When you hear a snide side-comment that carries a racial overtone … when you see somebody that’s being put behind … this is not a time, anymore, to sit back. This is not a spectator sport.”
The week prior to Tuesday morning’s united front, over 40 concerned citizens in Lansing representing various organizations had already put their heads together on the action to take next as facts develop. The press conference was capped by a Q&A, and there are plans for a follow-up meeting before the end of the summer.
If you may know anything pertinent to the current investigation surrounding the night of July 5, please contact Detective Quincy Scroggins at (517) 483-6848, Crime Stoppers of Mid-Michigan at (517) 483-STOP or the FBI, who is aware of the incident and represented at the presser.
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