Cobb County District 4 Commissioner Lisa Cupid sharply criticized modifications to a proposed anti-racism resolution submitted by Commissioner Keli Gambrill.
Commissioners Bob Ott and JoAnn Birrell supported Gambrill’s modifications.
Cupid said, during the agenda work session this morning, “I received this proposal 16 minutes prior to this meeting, and I will share this publicly for public consumption … I will not support it.”
“And I think it will be a very strong statement to see that the only African-American on this board, probably at least the best subject matter expert on this floor to speak to the impacts of racism, is not in support of it,” she said.
“I will share the reasons why I’m not in support of it,” she said. “But I want you to know that for me to get this 16 minutes prior to our meeting is an issue for me,” she said.
“To see persons who have purposefully chosen not to participate in dialogue with respect to race, and then make comments that they don’t perceive it exists and all this stuff going on is with respect to one incident, to see that individual take the lead on this document in such a manner of which even my feedback to the board has not been considered or responded to, is a high disappointment,” Cupid said.
“The board has an opportunity to make a very direct statement with respect to racism. This document reflects the national concern right now about the impacts of racism,” she said.
“The national events that are occurring had impetus from the death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer,” she said. “However, there have been multiple events leading up to that for which many people say they will not continue to allow this to occur, and to not stand up and speak up boldly with respect to this in our communities.”
“And a lot of times when there are significant policy matters, they are best promulgated from the people at the top,” she said.
“That, in Cobb County, is us.”
“And the people at the top, the people on the Board of Commissioners have an opportunity to make a very clear concise statement about our views condemning racism,” Cupid said.
“To add in language, that then narrows it down to the police department, and their programming, undermines the broad impact of racism in every facet of life,” she said.
Gambrill responded that she waited until the last minute to distribute the resolution because she was upset that Commissioner Cupid had shared earlier drafts with the public.
“We received a document that was supposed to be a working document for the Board of Commissioners to work amongst the five of us to come to agreement on a resolution,” Gambrill said.
“We’re talking about racism, she said. “But in order to truly end racism, we need to be able to trust each other. And that trust needs to belong on this board when a document is sent, and is supposed to be a working document amongst the board, there needs to be a level of trust that it’s going to stay amongst the board until we come up with a final document.”
“That was clearly not shown here,” she said.
“Yes, I waited to send this document out at 8:44 because I knew that I could not trust it staying amongst the five board members. So again, to end racism, we need to start a level of trust. And the trust starts here,” Gambrill said.
Cupid said there has never been a requirement that documents for discussion among board members stay within the board.
“My support for you, Commissioner Gambrill, on this board when no one has, over and over and over again … So if you believe that I have not had a track record of establishing a framework of trust, then there’s really nothing more that I could do to establish that,” Cupid said.
“It is not for the sole Black Commissioner on the floor to bear the weight of the offense on her own,” Cupid said. “I wanted the community to see the stress level I had to deal with, and see the boldness of these modifications.”
“Because I did not want to have to bear that on my own,” she said, “and I shouldn’t have to.”
The vote on the resolution will take place at tomorrow’s BOC meeting.
Below are the two versions of the resolution under consideration.
Original Resolution (supported by Commissioner Lisa Cupid)
WHEREAS, the Cobb County Board of Commissioners is deeply saddened and concerned by the tragic events that have occurred across the country and here in Georgia; and
WHEREAS, the Cobb County Board of Commissioners is expressly opposed to racism, bigotry, hate and violence in any form; and
WHEREAS, the Cobb County Board of Commissioners is committed to actively working against the damaging effects of racism and to ensuring the Constitutional rights of every person who lives, works and visits Cobb County; and
WHEREAS, people of all races, ethnicities, cultures and faith contribute to Cobb County’s strengths and well-being; and
WHEREAS, the Cobb County Board of Commissioners will continue to be honest and transparent with internal and external stakeholders and will continue to build on the culture and trust within the community; and
WHEREAS, in order to protect the health, safety, and welfare of its citizens and visitors, the Board wishes to condemn racism, bigotry, hate and violence which can no longer be tolerated in Georgia and in particular Cobb County.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Cobb County Board of Commissioners that we stand with all citizens of Cobb County against racism and reaffirm our commitment to fighting for racial and economic justice, gender equality, and human and civil rights for all.
This _____________ day of _______________, 2020
Modifications to original resolution (submitted by Commissioner Keli Gambrill)
WHEREAS, the Cobb County Board of Commissioners as representatives of Cobb County Government are deeply saddened and concerned by the tragic events across the country and here in Georgia; and
WHEREAS, racism, bigotry, hate, prejudice and violence in any form are not reflective of the community and relationships that have been built over time to promote positive community characteristics and a sense-of-place within our cities, neighborhoods and schools, while protecting the constitutional rights of every person who lives, works and visits Cobb County, Georgia;
WHEREAS, people of all races, ethnicities, cultures, and faith contribute to Cobb County’s strengths and well-being;
Whereas, Cobb County Police Department are committed to reaching out to the citizens and businesses in an effort to build community partnerships and trust. This is done through programs such as the Athletic League, Community / Faith Forums, and the Police Explorer Program. Additionally, Cobb County Community Affairs Unit works daily with all our diverse communities to make their neighborhoods a safer, happier and more productive place to live.
WHEREAS, we will continue to be honest and transparent while continuing to reach out to our citizens and businesses to look at new opportunities to further build on the culture of trust within the community. Through these efforts, we strive to overcome the racism, bigotry, hate, prejudice and violence.
WHEREAS, to protect the health, safety, and welfare of its citizens and visitors, the Cobb County Board of Commissioners and the Cobb County Public Safety Officers will not tolerate racism, bigotry, hate, prejudice and violence.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Cobb County Board of Commissioners as representatives of Cobb County Government that we stand with all citizens of Cobb County against racism and reaffirm our commitment to providing an environment that supports civil rights for all.
This ______ day of ____________________, 2020.
Cobb County Board of Commissioners
Michael H. Boyce, Chairman
Cobb County Board of Commissioners