Community Conversation Focuses on Healing Public Divisiveness

Panel of experts led discussion, took questions from crowd
Friday, December 9, 2016

DETROIT — State Representatives Leslie Love (D-Detroit) and LaTanya Garrett (D-Detroit) hosted a community conversation on Friday at Marygrove College in Detroit. The event, “Safeguarding our Rights in an Uncertain Time,” was inspired by concerns that both lawmakers have received from their constituents as a response to the incoming presidential administration. Love and Garrett convened a panel discussion moderated by award-winning journalist Jack Lessenberry. More than 50 local residents attended the event.

“The fact that this event was so well-attended underscores to me the need to have these kinds of conversations, now and into the future,” Love said. “Preserving the legal rights of my constituents and people across Michigan is one of my most pressing concerns as a legislator, and I will continue to do everything in my power to ensure everyone is treated equally under the law.”

Panelists for the event were the Rev. Nicholas Hood III, pastor of Plymouth United Methodist Church and former Detroit City Council member; Frank Rashid, Marygrove College dean of faculty; Khalilah Spencer, chair of the state NAACP’s Legal Redress Committee; and Robert Sedler, Wayne State University distinguished professor of law. Members of the audience brought forward many concerns during the two-hour discussion, including voter ID laws, “stop and frisk” laws, conflicts of interest, Detroit Public Schools, Michigan’s emergency manager law, the rejection of the Regional Transit Authority ballot proposal and more.

“Not only are people concerned about what’s happening on the national level, we have very serious concerns here in Michigan, where the Legislature is trying once again to pass a voting law that will disproportionately impact communities of color,” Garrett said. “I was proud to partner with Rep. Love to host this event, and I will continue to work with her and the rest of our colleagues in Lansing to protect the rights of citizens in Detroit and beyond.”

Alia Quinn, a community organizer from Detroit, said one reason she attended the community conversation was because she already sees fragile relationships between various groups that have been pitted against each other for the last year. Getting the groups together will have a positive effect, and all too often, they work in isolation from each other.

“I’m a black woman, a Muslim and a mother of two children, and I’m concerned the impact the election will have on the region and on me personally,” Quinn said. “There was some good political and historical theory and prospective talked about, but we need more action steps.”