WUOMFM

Michigan Civil Rights Commission

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission is getting down to work on a final report on the Flint water crisis.

The process began roughly nine months ago when the commission decided to examine what factors may have contributed to the crisis. 

On Thursday, the commission held its third and final public hearing into allegations that classism and racism were root causes of the city’s lead-tainted drinking water.

Commission co-chair Arthur Horwitz says now the important work begins, putting together their findings in a final report.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s top civil rights officials held their first a public hearing on the Flint water crisis today.

Dozens of Flint residents told their stories to the Michigan Civil Rights Commission.

“This is not a black or white thing,” Flint resident Tony Palladino testified, “because this water is killing all of us.”

Other speakers complained about racism, water rates, real estate red-lining, and Gov. Rick Snyder.

The commissioners noted a task force set up by Gov. Snyder called Flint’s water crisis an example of “environmental injustice."

Civil rights hearings planned on Flint water crisis

Jan 27, 2016
Flint water treatment plant
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission will investigate whether the Flint drinking water crisis has violated the civil rights of Flint residents. 

The bipartisan commission unanimously passed a resolution yesterday to hold at least three public hearings, the first of which is expected to take place within 30 days.

"The Commission decided that under the state constitution, as well as the Elliott-Larsen Act, to conduct hearings to try to learn more if discrimination may have occurred," said commission co-chair Arthur Horwitz. 

thetoad / Flickr

The woman who wrote and championed Michigan’s groundbreaking Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act has died.

Daisy Elliott was a state representative from Detroit for nearly two decades.

Fellow lawmakers remembered her as a quiet, gracious woman who fiercely opposed discrimination of any kind.

Her years-long campaign for state-level civil rights protections finally paid off in 1977, when the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act became law with bipartisan support. It declared:

Casino Connection / Flickr

In 1963, Michigan voters approved a new state constitution which set up the first Civil Rights Commission in U.S. history.

The Commission works to ensure each citizen receives equal protection without discrimination

Today, fifty years after the creation of the Commission, Matt Wesaw runs the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. A former state trooper, Wesaw is the first Native American to lead the Civil Rights Department.

Wesaw met with us in the studio to discuss the future of civil rights in Michigan.

Listen to the full interview above.

Casino Connection / Flickr

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The new executive director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights is starting his job this week in Lansing.

Matt Wesaw will begin Monday. He was chosen for the position by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission earlier in October.

Wesaw fills the vacancy left by the retirement Daniel Krichbaum in July.

With his selection, Wesaw is the first Native American to lead the Civil Rights Department. He plans to retire from his positions as chairman of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians and president and CEO of the Pokagon Gaming Authority.

Dohn Hoyle, the director of public policy of The Arc: "There's not been anything that we've seen ... that leads us to believe that the governor's original [mental health funding] plan makes any sense."
Matthileo/Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission has announced that Matt Wesaw will be the new Executive Board Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.

Wesaw will be the first Native American to lead MDCR. He has chosen to retire as Chairman of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians and President and CEO of the Pokagon Gaming Authority to take this position. In the past, he was a Michigan state police trooper, and a director for the Michigan State Police Troopers Association. He also served on the Commission of Indian Affairs and won the Native American Financial Officers Association's Tribal Leader of the Year award in 2012.

The U.S. Department of Education has dismissed a complaint from the Michigan Department of Civil Rights over schools’ use of American Indian mascots.

The civil rights department had argued that the images hurt Native American students’ academic performance, and create an unequal learning environment.

But federal education officials say opponents of Indian mascots and logos need to prove that they create a hostile environment for Native American students.

A new draft report finds allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians hurts Michigan’s economy. The state’s Civil Rights Commission is reviewing the report and might take action.

In Michigan it’s legal to discriminate against people who are Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or Transgender. Housing and job discrimination are a couple of the examples that are allowed by law.

Litandmore / Creative Commons

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission wants public input about bullying. The commission works to prevent and investigate discrimination complaints under state civil rights laws. It’s holding a series of forums across the state to collect the information in hopes of tackling what they say is a growing problem.