The city of Brookhaven is slated to have a framework and structure for a city government body on race relations by its next City Council meeting on Sept. 8, City Manager Christian Sigman said in an Aug. 25 work session.
After nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice, Planning Commissioner John Funny suggested creating a “body sanctioned by the City Council” on race relations to further the city’s dialogue on race and inclusion.
“Since we are not hearing a national dialogue or conversation, it is incumbent that the city of Brookhaven establishes a body on race relations,” Funny said during the work session.
Informally referring to it as a commission, Funny said it could take the form as a commission, advisory council or committee.
Funny and City Councilmember Madeleine Simmons have been planning to create that commission since a June 29 town hall, where the two discussed the idea and the importance of having candid conversations about race. Simmons said she has continued to have conversations with residents in order to get an idea for what that commission may look like.
Sigman said city staff will work with Funny to create a structure and find members to join the commission, which he said will be a similar process to how the city created the Affordable Housing Task Force, which was a 13-member group formed in 2016 to recommend changes to have more affordable housing in the city.
Funny said the group is the first step to a citywide conversation and should be “strategic, goal-focused and result-oriented.”
“Through a series of dialogue and discussion, we will identify areas of concern and develop strategies to improve race relations,” Funny said.
Part of the goal in forming the group is to highlight the work already being done by other organizations in the city to improve race relations, such as the Lynnwood Park Foundation and the Brookhaven Police Foundation, Funny said.
All the commissioners expressed support for a body on race relations.
“These issues couldn’t be higher on my personal priority list or my life priority list,” Councilmember Linley Jones said in the work session. “I want to support in any way this effort to bring this to our city’s attention.”