December 17, 2012
Charlottesville city councilors received lengthy and passionate updates Monday night about the current state of discrimination and equality within city limits.
The Dialogue on Race and the Human Rights Task Force took up nearly two hours of discussion at the council meeting at City Hall. Councilors heard from many supporters who were pushing for the development of a Human Rights Commission.
"Step up. Act boldly out of human decency and in the name of justice, long delayed, long denied," one person told councilors during the public comment period.
Many people in the council chambers stood in support of the creation of a commission.
Council addressed some concerns about a proposed commission, like the authority it would have to enforce any complaints. The task force members admitted that in most situations of complaints, the commission could not do the job of law enforcement.
"As long as you're focusing just on helping individual cases of allegations of illegal discrimination, you're really kind of losing site of the big picture," city councilor Dave Norris said.
Norris said one of his concerns moving forward with a commission is that its formation could ignore what he calls the "systemic discrimination" in the Charlottesville community.
Ultimately, council made no decision on the creation of a commission. The purpose of Monday's meeting was to provide information so down the line, councilors can decide whether a Human Rights Commission will help curb the apparent discrimination in Charlottesville.