Schor seeks $170,000 to create racial equity fund

Mayor backs promise of action to protesters with request to City Council

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TUESDAY, June 9 — Acting on a pledge to protesters, Lansing Mayor Andy Schor has proposed creating a Racial Equity and Anti-Racism Fund and funding it with $170,000, mostly from the Police Department.

In an announcement around 6 p.m. yesterday, the administration said it will ask the City Council to move money in the current budget from three sources into the fund: $100,000 from the Police Department, $50,000 from the Human Resources and Community Services Department, and $20,000 from My Brother’s Keeper, a city initiative for youth of color.

Additionally, the announcement said, Capitol National Bank has volunteered to lead a fundraising effort in the business community to support the fund.

“It’s important for the City of Lansing to invest in making sure we are a safe, inclusive and equitable community,” Schor said in a press release. “

He said the fund would “provide direct help to organizations that are working to make the community we all want a reality.”

“It’s important that we put a down payment on this commitment right now.”

As Schor pointed out, the funds would come from this fiscal year, which ends June 30. He said nothing about city funding from the new year, which runs from July 1 to June 30, 2021.

He asked residents to contribute ideas about “how and when we should make additional investments.”

The announcement also said that City Council President Peter Spadafore and Vice President Adam Hussein “have both indicated support and their willingness to put this before the City Council as a first step in the work that needs to be done.”

On Sunday at the Capitol, Schor told protesters he wanted to transfer $100,000 from the Police Department into social equity efforts. Later, he told City Pulse it was a number he threw out because he was being pressed for one.

The protesters reacted to his announcement by calling on him to resign. The amount represents about two-tenths of 1% of the public safety budget. 

Protest leader Paul Birdsong reacted to the mayor's fund proposal by sending City Pulse a flier encouraging people to join his movement. It said in art: "Mayor Andy Schor must resign! He has continually failed to listen to the people of Lansing to support Black lives, and is unprepared and unfit to lead us!"

The mayor's announcement said Police Chief Daryl Green supported the move.

“The Lansing Police Department fully supports the Mayor in establishing a racial equity and anti-racism fund.”

He seemed to suggest otherwise, though, at a press conference Monday, when he expressed concern about losing any money that could be used for police training.

Kim Coleman, who heads the Human Relations Department, endorsed it as well. The announcement said the department will end the year with an excess of $50,000, the amount that would be transferred to the fund.

Perhaps the biggest source of future funds will come from the private sector.

“The heavy lifting of realizing racial equity in our city is not just the job of one entity, but rather the collective work of money,” said Ed Hardin, president of Capitol National Bank.

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