Akron considering civil rights commission to address cases of discrimination

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AKRON, Ohio -- City council members on Monday were examining a 16-page ordinance proposed by Akron Mayor Daniel Horrigan intended to address cases of discrimination.

The 16-page ordinance creates a five member local civil rights commission that would have the authority to investigate cases in which residents felt they have been the victim of discrimination in compliance with existing laws.

If probable cause is found the panel, which would be from across the socioeconomic spectrum in the city and appointed by city council, would recommend a binding remedy.

The ordinance does not prohibit people who believe they are the victims of discrimination from taking their case to the state or federal level. It simply gives them the opportunity to seek a remedy locally as an option.

"Most other major cities in Ohio, including Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, and Dayton have all enacted similar ordinance, and I feel more strongly than ever, I feel we need to add the City of Akron to that list because discrimination of any kind is bad for business, it's bad for the community, it's bad for families, and it's bad for individuals," Horrigan told an audience on Monday.

Akron City Council member Tara Mosley-Samples, who was seeing the ordinance for the first time before a special committee meeting Monday afternoon, said she believes there will be some modifications to the proposed legislation but she also believes it is good for the city.

"The local component only helps because you have somebody locally that you can go to and confide in as well. Sometimes if you are having complaints on a national level, and people are going there, the backlog has to be much greater than if you have a local commission that's present that you can go in and address these issues with," said Mosley-Samples.

"I truly believe that if we are going to live up to our reputation as a welcoming city, it has to be more than just words on paper," said Horrigan.

The ordinance was to be presented to council for the first time at their regular meeting at 7 p.m. Monday.​