A proclamation affirming the city’s position on civil rights was read by Mayor Kate Rousmaniere at Tuesday’s City Council meeting in response to fears of harassment and bullying being expressed around the country.
Ten people spoke at Council’s Nov. 15 meeting about fears of residents being mistreated by others, some with stories of comments and treatment experienced in the wake of the presidential election.
The proclamation opens by saying, “(R)esidents of the city of Oxford are or are descended from immigrants or Native Americans.”
It goes on to note the city’s Civil Rights Code (Chapter 143) prohibits discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations on the basis of age, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation, sex, gender identity, disability, pregnancy, height, weight or veteran status.
The proclamation further says the 2008 Oxford Comprehensive Plan states as one of its objectives to “promote cultural diversity.”
Miami University’s efforts toward inclusion were also noted in the proclamation.
“(T)he mission and goals of Miami University strive ‘to cultivate an environment where diversity and difference are appreciated and respected,’ ” it says.
The statement then relates to the speakers from the Nov. 15 meeting and the fears expressed then.
“(W)e live in a moment when many citizens are reflecting on safety, stability and inclusivity of our communities,” the proclamation reads.
The mayor’s proclamation then says the Council wishes to affirm support for all citizens in the community based on these tenets:
- The necessity for civility and mutual respect among all members of our community
- The value of our diversity and our faith that pluralism makes us stronger
- Our intolerance of bullying and marginalization, particularly towards those under-represented and vulnerable individuals and groups among us
- Our commitment to uphold and enforce the City of Oxford’s Civil Rights Code
- Our renewed commitment to the broader work of the City of Oxford to promote the peace, health and safety of all of our people
At the public comment portion of the agenda, Pat Meade spoke to the proclamation noting he is a member of both the Community Relations Commission and the Police Community Relations and Review Commission.
“I thank the mayor for the proclamation taking a stand to make Oxford the place it ought to be. There are issues of harassment that do not rise to the level of things we deal with,” he said, noting many such issues are still problems for citizens.
As a member of the police commission, he added the police department takes seriously its efforts to make people feel welcome and safe.
Mayor Rousmaniere said the proclamation was a joint effort of the city, the Oxford Branch of the NAACP, PFLAG, the Community Relations Commission and Oxford Friends.
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