Grand Traverse Co. Sheriff Verbally Commits to Meeting Some Demands from Northern Michigan Anti-Racism Task Force

Discussions continued Friday between the Northern Michigan Anti-Racism Task Force and the Grand Traverse County Sheriff.

At Traverse City’s Black Lives Matter protest, the task force made ten demands for local law enforcement, and Friday, their conversations focused on three of them: using body cameras, implementing an anti-profiling policy, and doing regular implicit bias trainings.

Sheriff Bensley verbally committed to implementing a policy, and there will be a bias training next week.

“We are absolutely in step with them with trying to cooperate with them, and I think if we can, we can move this forward,” said the sheriff.

The task force will be working with the Sheriff’s Office to create more frequent, and more in-depth trainings.

“Implicit bias is something that’s ingrained; it’s going to take much longer than a three-hour course,” said task force member Courtney Wiggins.

The two sides did not agree completely on the body camera item. The Sheriff wants to bring other officials from his department into the conversation and is concerned about cost. His office will create a body camera committee to examine the issue further.

“My concerns are, long-term, where do we go next year? The year after? Specifically, with funding?” he said.

The task force is looking into grants and using donations to fund the cameras.

“This group so far has raised $30,000 to commit towards the use of body cameras,” said member Holly Bird.

Task force member Marshall Collins Jr. wants these demands to create a more equitable world for his son and other children who look like him.

“It’s okay that we say we demand that racial profiling ends. It’s okay for me to say that. For my kids, and other kids that look like me,” said Collins Jr. “I don’t want [my son] to be a victim of racial profiling. Okay? I don’t want him to a victim, period, in any thing where he hasn’t done anything wrong.”

The two sides have agreed to meet regularly.

“We are urging fellow community members to continue showing up and to help make sure that this is an anti-racist community,” said Wiggins. “There’s a lot of talk, we need to have action and we need it to be from everyone in this community.”

The group is hosting a safe space for local Black, Indigenous and other persons of color where everyone can gather in a safe space to talk and have discussions. Sign up is on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/nmiartf/

Img 2449To engage with the group, donate, or learn how to volunteer, follow them on Facebook.