Brookhaven City Council Sept. 22 approved the creation of a Social Justice, Race and Equity Commission as part of its commitment to starting a citywide conversation about racial injustice and police brutality.
“We need a forum to have open conversations on race, diversity, social justice and equity,” City Councilmember Madeleine Simmons said in a press release. “I look forward to the commission’s discussions, proposed initiatives and recommendations.”
Simmons and Planning Commission Vice Chair John Funny have played pivotal roles in creating the commission, which was first proposed by them in a June town hall meeting.
Funny will be the chair of the commission. Commission members will come from the faith-based community, education leadership, business community, teens and seniors and the city’s different zoning character areas, according to the resolution.
Members of the commission will be voted on at the Oct. 13 council meeting, according to the resolution.
According to the resolution, the commission will review Brookhaven’s public engagement policies for inclusivity and the police department’s use of force policies and accountability.
The commission will meet for one year in public meetings.
In a Sept. 8 work session, Funny said the commission may have about 29 members with a seven-person executive committee.
“Having a commission of this size allows us to establish subcommittees to break out in topical areas so we can address issues simultaneously to accomplish more in a shorter duration of time,” Funny told the council.
Outcomes of the commission may include changes to the city charter, policies, procedures or organizational structures, such as evaluating to see if there’s any inherent biases in the city’s purchasing policies, Funny said at the work session.
“We don’t know what will evolve from the initial unearthing of what’s on people’s minds,” Funny said. “We have to ask the question. That’s how we find out what’s on the whiteboard that we need to address as part of this commission.”
The commission was created after the nationwide protests in early summer against racial injustice and police brutality.