Thursday, July 17, 2008

State civil rights panel slates public forum Monday

Berrien County abuses to be discussed.

By H-P STAFF, 7/16/08
BENTON HARBOR — Benton Harbor area residents with general concerns related to civil rights violations can air them at a public forum to be hosted by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission on Monday.

The commission will meet at the Benton Harbor High School student commons with a business meeting at 4 p.m. and public forum at 5:30 p.m.

Commission spokesman Harold Core said the panel travels throughout Michigan and is having its first general business meeting in Benton Harbor since the 2003 riots.

“We try to reach various communities to make sure we’re in touch with people’s concerns,” he said.

Core said that Lisa Peeples- Hurst, a well-known activist from Benton Harbor, recently was appointed by the governor to a fouryear term on the Civil Rights Commission.

“Knowing some of the difficulties there have been in Benton Harbor, we decided to hold a meeting there,” Core said.

He said that during the business portion of the meeting, the commission will be briefed about a few general civil rights issues, but no actual cases will be considered.

He said there are some cases pending from Benton Harbor, but none are to the point of public comment or commission action.

Core said that past issues from Benton Harbor have been related to alleged racial profiling by police and the court system. He said the commission also has received complaints about some elected officials, but added, “That’s outside our jurisdiction.”

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission office in Benton Harbor is in the Michigan Works! office at Main Street and Riverview Drive and is open on the first and third Wednesday of every month.