Published April 18, 2023

Possible Precursor to Minot Anti-Discrimination Ordinance 

Written by
Lydia Hoverson
| The Dakotan
Council member Carrie Evans, left, moves to revive a 1970s Human Relations committee. At right is Council member Lisa Olson. (Photo: Lydia Hoverson/The Dakotan
Council member Carrie Evans, left, moves to revive a 1970s Human Relations committee. At right is Council member Lisa Olson. (Photo: Lydia Hoverson/The Dakotan

City Council Revives Human Relations Committee 


MINOT – An article for the creation of a committee to promote acceptance for diversity passed its first reading at the Minot City Council meeting Monday and is being called a precursor to an anti-discrimination ordinance. 

The Human Relations Committee was originally created in 1976. According to Council member Carrie Evans, it has not been in existence for at least a decade. 

Some of the goals of the seven-person committee would be to identify issues of concern regarding civil rights in Minot and to encourage the city to adhere with state and federal civil rights laws. Each member would be appointed by the mayor, one being a member of the City Council and one being the city manager. 

“We will get this committee set up and populated with some good individuals and with the city manager and a member of the Council, and hopefully come to the Council with some recommendations of how we can be a better city that’s safe and welcoming,” said Evans. 

Evans said the committee currently would have no fiscal impact on the city’s budget but as it moves forward it would bring budget amendments to the Council as needed. 

Council member Lisa Olson said she looked into Bismarck and Fargo’s HRCs which looked similar to Minot’s. 

“This one is probably a little more descriptive,” said Olson. “We have a few more generalities. Essentially, they state they are going to do the same thing, but in reality they are doing very different things.” 

Olson said in Bismarck the committee is more educational, informational, and supportive. In Fargo the committee has looked at grievances against the city. 

“I looked back at their 2022 minutes,” said Olson. “For four meetings in a row, they simply were addressing an officer involved shooting. That’s not the road that I want to go down with this committee. I like the way that Bismarck was looking at it, but I don’t think it is that committee’s role to look into something like that. If there was that sort of incident it would be investigated by another agency, the attorney general’s office.” 

Evans clarified that the revival of the committee aligns with the city’s aspiration to be a safe and welcoming community. 

“I think it’s important to have a committee that really takes a look at what we need to do as a community and as a council to be an affirming and welcoming city,” said Evans. “I would see this to be much like Bismarck’s, they are promoting fairness and acceptance. I cannot imagine with the powers and duties that any kind of law enforcement shooting would be part of the purview of that. I’m going to be very transparent and clear about my intentions. This is the precursor, I hope, to our city adopting an anti-discrimination ordinance.” 

Evans said when the HR committee in Minot was in its heyday in the 80s, aggrieved individuals would come to the city with no course of action because the city did not have an ordinance prohibiting discrimination. The HRC would then help and refer the individuals to find a course of action with state law. 

Council member Scott Burlingame said he has previously advocated for a Human Rights Commission at the state capitol. 

“My job during that process was to collect information on people who had been discriminated against in North Dakota,” said Burlingame. “I dealt with a lot of people who had been aggrieved for a variety of reasons. A lot of the stories involved a lot of trauma, however the trauma did not always relate to human rights violations. I think that is important, to provide information when it is appropriate, and also kind guidance when it’s not appropriate.” 

Burlingame added that he hopes the committee can help educate people on their civil rights.  

After the Council made some wording changes in the article and removed the requirement for the HRC to meet once a month, the first reading of the article passed unanimously. 

Anyone interested in serving on the committee can apply here

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