Jackson Mayor Derek Dobies has had his hands full juggling the issues that the city faces on a daily basis. He joined us over the past few weeks to discuss two important issues: human rights and gun control.
A poll of Michigan voters out last week showed massive support for strong LGBT rights, over 70 percent. City Council passed a resolution 6-1 to stand behind the LGBT community. That support however, isn’t nearly as strong among the leadership in Lansing.
“Times have changed, and people have evolved on the issue. We all know friends and neighbors and co-workers that happen gay, or lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. We all know we don’t want those friends and neighbors to be kicked out of their house or fired from their jobs just because of who they love,” Dobies said. “That’s not the kind of city I want to raise want to raise my daughter in, and not the kind of state I want to raise my daughter in.”
The resolution of support didn’t include any new ordinances or protections, but is a sign of support for the LGBT community in their efforts to impact Lansing lawmakers under the dome. “We even had Craig Pappin, who voted against the NDO, vote in favor of the resolution.” Jeromy Alexander was the only no vote.
“Hopefully the state legislature can get their heads wrapped around it,” Dobies added.
Meanwhile, gun violence continues to be a problem in the city. “Some of the group violence that we have in the city, and some of the gun violence that we have, the number of shootings that have escalated over the past couple of years; last year we had about 125 confirmed shootings, and double that in terms of shots fired calls. We’re pretty high, and it’s been going up and increasing. As a city council and as a community we have to do something about it,” Dobies said.
So what is being done? The city has partnered with Jackson Community Foundation and John Jay College of Criminal Justice to find out where, and possibly whom, is causing the issue. They found that it is a small circle that creates a wide berth of violence. “We’ve been investigating that over the past year since I’ve been mayor. Director of Police and Fire Services Elmer Hitt actually went out with the financial support from Jackson Community Foundation got a grant to study the issue with John Jay College and they determined about 120 to 150 make up 50 to 70 percent of the violence that we see in the community. There’s a very small portion of people that are causing all of this violence and gunfire.”
The study also suggests that intervention of these individuals, connecting them with key social services may be a way to remove them from the lifestyle and break the cycle of violence.
For more insight into the city’s plans for tackling this issue, visit the City’s Official Website.