Northern Michigan E3 Responds to Leelanau Commissioners Racist Comments

Northern Michigan E3, formerly the Northern Michigan Anti Racism Task Force, held a press conference on Thursday to address recent racism in Leelanau County.

It comes after County leadership held a series of discussions about racism, which included county officials using racial slurs and debating the definition of racism.

“The purpose of this press conference is to sort of to give our collective reaction to the recent words and actions of the Leelanau Board of Commissioners,” said E3 member Holly Bird.

Last week Leelanau County Road Commissioner Tom Eckerle resigned following racist comments made during a public meeting.

Earlier this week the board of commissioners met to discuss an anti racism resolution in response to Eckerle’s comments.

Bird said, “The discussion in fact really made it worse. So for me, reading their resolution and what’s really important is accountability. And there was no accountability from the board whatsoever.”

Northern Michigan E3 members were shocked to hear multiple commissioners make comments drawing comparisons between racism, abortion, and genocide.

“Some of the comments that we heard were trying to define racism in really nonsensical kinds of ways,” Bird said. “Those kinds of words, those kinds of attitudes have no place in our government.”

Their biggest concern is that even though Leelanau County may be working towards an anti racism resolution, they haven’t included people of color in on the conversation.6141f42e Ed07 4381 9b86 2e92efda21ee

“While I think that it’s an initiative to take to try and have a resolution against racism in a community, and clearly they still need some education of what that is,” said E3 member, Courtney Wiggins. “They didn’t ask people of color to come to the table from the community to help with this. And I think that’s very important for that voice to be there.”

Now, E3 is asking other government officials to step up, and set a better example.

Bird says, “Our call to action in Leelanau County and surrounding counties is to undergo yearly implicit bias training by all government officials, elected or not.”

Northern Michigan E3 says they are working with multiple community agencies to hold government officials responsible for their comments.