LANSING, Mich. — Sens. Marshall Bullock (D-Detroit) and Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield), and Reps. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo(D-Detroit) and Robert Wittenberg (D-Huntington Woods) today announced the creation of The Black and Jewish Unity Caucus to take legislative action to combat racism and anti-Semitism.
“We endured the protests at the State Capitol during which Confederate flags and Nazi imagery were on display side-by-side. This brazen demonstration of intimidation, along with a surge in reported hate crimes, calls on us to support one another and offer remedies to root out bigotry in Michigan,” Sen. Moss said.
As a caucus of legislators, the Black and Jewish Unity Caucus will speak out against racism, anti-Semitism and other ethnic-based hatred by proposing and advocating for legislation that targets hate crimes and hateful conduct.
Michigan was ranked sixth out of 50 states last year in the number of hate incidents reported across the country. In 2019, the Southern Poverty Law Center tracked 27 hate groups in our state. Many are far-right groups that espouse white supremacist ideology, including neo-Nazis, neo-Confederates, Skinheads, and others.
“The outrage in our state and around the country is palpable, but we don’t have the luxury of merely being angry,” Rep. Wittenberg said. “We must not wait for the federal government, and we most certainly cannot wait for another generation of lawmakers. These ills are our problems to solve.”
The caucus will partner with the Coalition for Black and Jewish Unity — formed three years ago as a partnership between the Jewish Community Relations Council/American Jewish Committee (JCRC/AJC) and the Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit and Vicinity — to create a wider bandwidth to address these issues in everything from education to legislation. It will operate as the state equivalent to the Congressional Caucus for Black and Jewish Relations, co-chaired by U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield), which launched last fall.
“Despite what we wish to believe, hate and hate crimes are as vast and deep as the waters that flow through Michigan’s Great Lakes for many of us. They have been with us since the beginning of time,” said Rep. Gay-Dagnogo, Chairwoman of the Detroit Caucus. “However, there is a current tide of opportunity to ameliorate our state of its ugly past with a renewed social compact and justice for all. That’s why I am joining my colleagues to forge new connections of trust, tolerance, and respect for all, as we give birth to a new legacy and stream that we can all be renewed by for generations to come.”
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