Get Involved: Attend a Council Meeting

It is our goal to maintain a consistent, significant presence of activists who believe that Black lives matter and that it's time to Defund the Police at all Dearborn City Council meetings, with emphasis on the meetings leading up to the passage of Dearborn’s new charter. City Council meetings occur regularly. For the 2021 Council meeting schedule visit Dearborn's city council website.

Please note: Dearborn City Council meetings have been moved back to in-person at the Dearborn Administrative Center.

Check out our Council Prep workshop slide deck, or schedule a Council Prep webinar using the Calendly linked below.

12 1 2020 Meeting 1 slide guide

Request a Council Prep Workshop or Webinar

Nervous about speaking out at a council meeting? Not sure what you can say? Want to bounce ideas off of someone who's been through it before? Schedule a Council Prep Workshop with our education team to help prepare your statement. Select any available date and time on the calendar below (you may need to scroll if you are on your phone) to schedule your workshop or webinar.

Meeting Logistics

  • The agenda portion comes first, and then public comments are invited -- plan to make your comments during the public comments section.

  • Every speaker has three minutes, the Council President will stop you at the three-minute mark.

  • You will be asked to state your name and address for the record you are not required to provide t his information.

  • Council members can respond to your statement, ask clarifying questions, and challenge your statement. This is separate from your 3 minutes, and you can reclaim your time if interrupted.

Making your Statement Effective

  • To prepare to speak, consider reviewing the legislative and historic contexts of Dearborn

  • Keep in mind our goal at this meeting: making it legal to defund the police and to weaken the police department’s influence in our city. This can mean:

    • Diminishing the trust that City Council has for the PD

    • Sustaining pressure on City Council to address realities of racism Dearborn.

    • Expressing and sustaining pressure to defund the police

  • Keep it focused and prioritize --

    • You only have three minutes. You may not be able to hit all the points you want to cover.

    • Focus on quality over quantity. Your goal is to be heard, not make sure every fact is said.

    • Save the excess points to share at the next meeting.

  • Example statement types that appear effective:

    • Personal stories/experiences

      1. Negative experiences with Dearborn PD

      2. Positive experiences with first responders who were not police, in situations that would have otherwise been under the purview of the police

    • Specific concerns about Dearborn PD’s operations with supporting evidence

    • Mission/vision statements -- providing a framework for what kind of future you imagine for Dearborn

  • Bring it back to the situation in Dearborn.

    • There is a lot of information about reasons why policing fails communities. It’s important to tie these statements back to the situation in Dearborn. Our City Councilors view our police force as the exception, placing the burden of proof on us to show that these trends apply in Dearborn. Any national statistics should be connected to local statistics.

    • Visit the External Research page to find ways that national trends connect to local policing procedures.

  • Practice your statement until you are comfortable and confident with it

Common Rebuttals from City Councilors

Dearborn City Councilors often express:

  • That they view funding the police department below the levels of the charter is in breach of what they are legally permitted to do. (A4D Response: City Council has the power to decrease funding for overtime and equipment.)

  • They view funding the police department at the current levels to be carrying out the will of Dearborn’s electorate. (A4D Response: The city sacrificed necessary officer accountability measures to reach this agreement.)

  • The charter provision represents the will of Dearborn's electorate. (A4D Response: Refusing to put the provision to the ballot ignores Dearborn’s electorate.)

  • Policing in Dearborn is the best in the country, exemplary, and the model that other departments should aspire to. (A4D Response: Dearborn Police have demonstrated a pattern of abusing Dearborn BIPOC residents and visitors.)

  • That “we do not want to use too broad a brush” when discussing police officer misconduct. (A4D Response: Assuming all officers are good is more dangerous to our communities than assuming all officers are bad.)

  • That they are not in a position to judge the outcomes of Prosecutor Worthy’s investigation of Janet Wilson and Kevin Matthews’ deaths at the hands of Dearborn police officers. (A4D Response: Kym Worthy’s office is notorious for failing to prosecute killer cops. The DOJ did not examine these cases.)

Being Silenced

We have compiled the reasons that activists have been silenced during public comment and encourage you to strategically consider these items when planning your statement. For example, if you plan to use a word or phrase that typically results in being silenced, you may plan to use that at the end of your statement.

  • Naming specific police officers

  • Using the word “murder” to describe the murders of Ernest Griglen, Kevin Matthews, and Janet Wilson.

  • Swearing/cursing

  • Making accusations against council members -- or mentioning known accusations about council members