GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — In the summer of 2017, the Grand Rapids Police Department was called after a group of people had gathered in Mulick Park on the southeast side of the city.
"When police showed up it was a graduation party. They had approval and permission to be in that park," said Patti Caudill the Diversity and Inclusion Manager for Grand Rapids. "The family and most of the people attending that graduation party were African American...was it because of bias? I don't know."
It's exactly those types of situations that city leaders in Grand Rapids are trying to avoid. A new human rights ordinance has been proposed which would, "[make] it a criminal misdemeanor to racially profile people of color for participating in their lives." That misdemeanor could come with a fine.
Tuesday night a public hearing was held on the ordinance.
"I am appalled that I live in a city I grew up in that has to have an ordinance to tell people not to call the police on people because of the color of their skin," said one woman at the hearing.
But critics say the proposal will cause problems and make it even harder for police.
"I'm grateful for the police and they already have the ability to charge someone for making a false report, so I'm opposed to the ordinance," said another city resident.
Others believe crimes may go unreported, but that is a claim that city leaders don't believe will happen.
"I want people to know that we're not telling you to not call police," said Caudill. "If you don't feel safe call the police."
City leaders could vote on the proposed ordinance in the coming weeks. If it passes it could go into effect this summer.
►Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the 13 ON YOUR SIDE app now.