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Local Group Seeking Answers on Racial Inequality from the County Commissioners, Sheriff, Prosecutor and City Officials.

This community is looking to the County Commissioners to do the difficult job of examining, reviewing and make
changes to release the shackles of oppression on communities of color and the poor. Charlotte Johnson F.I.S.T. Committee

County Commissioners – Rillastine Wilkins, Marcia Hovey-Wright, Susie Hughes, Robert Scolnik, Zack Lahring, Charles
Nash, Gary Foster, John Snider, Kenneth Mahoney, Prosecuting Attorney D.J. Hilson, Sheriff Michael Poulin

Photo by Anna Gustafson

“If the system in which the jail operates is flawed, even good officers can have bad outcomes.” As the nation protest
the lynching of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer sworn to protect and serve, this community is protesting as
well for Floyd and for the County of Muskegon to engage in comprehensive review of systems that oppress this
community. Protests nationally and internationally are demanding action from those in charge to take steps necessary
to change systems. Time has demanded a change.
The lack of humanity was displayed by someone who wore a badge. This will result in a loss of trust community has for
men and women behind a badge that didn’t honor a black man handcuffed, not resisting and stating “I can’t breathe”.
This City just had Officer Anderson in the media for displaying KKK memorabilia in his home. Well, no more. Time is at
hand to protect this community from a system of tyranny embedded from slavery that continues to this day. Implicit
and explicit bias is fueling a history of racism based on the color of your skin. America has acknowledged a system of
racism. Will you acknowledge this system as well and review, address and make changes to the following?

Comprehensive review of systems in the Jail and Judicial that needs to be addressed by
County Commissioners:
 Restricting attorney access hours and scheduling with their clients
 Inmates are a vulnerable population under the care of guards who may not have training, resources or staffing
to properly handle each situation especially mental health inmates
 Food not fit for human consumption causing diarrhea, constipation and other health issues
 Inmates accessibility to doctors and dentist takes weeks
 Denying medical care resulting in deaths
 Video visitation only – war on the poor, examine the cost of this
 The big business of Commissaries – war on the poor, examine the cost of these items
 The big business of Phone calls – war on the poor on inmate’s families for a few minutes of conversation
 Lack of Mental health workers to address the large mental health population
 No opportunities to exercise to release pinned up stress resulting in internal fights
 Inmates locked in pods 30 hours
 Restricted access to library and law library
 Inmates awaiting trial ineligible for work release
 Females not given required items during menstrual cycle
 HVAC ventilation breaking down exposure to COVID
 Not enough female officers for female inmates
 Welfare fund needed for the imprisoned poor to get basic essentials
 Review mobility issues in the jail
 Jail oversight and sight monitoring
 Inappropriate release times
 Lack of accountability

We’re just beginning our research into the court system but I’ve personally witnessed
 Case tried years beyond the statute of limitations allowed by the court appointed attorneys, judge and
prosecuting attorney’s office where defendants were charged and pleaded guilty
 Criminalized for being poor – Jailing the poor for failure to pay fines when the system knows they can’t afford to
pay them leading to incarceration
 Eliminate the cash bail system – cash bail perpetuates inequities in the justice system

Charlotte Johnson F.I.S.T. Committee Member

These are a view of things that need to be addressed in reforming the systems. F.I.S.T. will continue to research
inequities in the jail, judicial system, policing, economics, health, education and housing. You have the power to
promote justice in an unjust system of oppression that has haunted African Americans since slavery. America has finally
acknowledged a system of racism since the murder of George Floyd. As stakeholders, it’s time to acknowledge that the
criminal justice system in the United States, since its inception, has allocated benefits and burdens on the basis of race.
This community is looking to the County Commissioners to do the difficult job of examining, reviewing and make
changes to release the shackles of oppression on communities of color and the poor. F.I.S.T. sees that the whole
country is moving towards reform and will make sure that Muskegon moves in that direction as well. F.I.S.T. has
reached out to businesses, churches and community leaders, and united we’ll reach out to the community to join
together to guarantee that reform comes to this county. Racism exist in health care, economics, justice, housing and
education. For four hundred years, 8 minutes and 46 seconds racism has been entrenched in American policies and it’s
time for Muskegon County to keep up with the fight for justice and equality that America has established since the
murder of George Floyd. This has brought on a new revitalization.
Hundreds protested and rallied on June 1 st in Muskegon. The media, city and county stated that it was a success. My
question to you is what was successful? Success is when justice is blind. Let’s embrace and guarantee real success by
releasing systems that hold people down.
In conclusion, I’ll leave you with this quote from Gundi “Poverty is the worst form of violence.” Please share with me
the County of Muskegon’s impact statement on systemic racism that all municipalities and businesses have released
to the public since the death of George Floyd.

Sincerely looking and waiting for your response,

Charlotte Johnson

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