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McDonough Co. group claims unaddressed diversity problems in Macomb

KHQA photo. Macomb, Illinois.
KHQA photo. Macomb, Illinois.
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On Tuesday, the Democratic Women of McDonough County asked if minorities and LBGTQ in Macomb have a safe place to call home.

They claim Macomb City Council, along with Macomb’s Mayor and the Macomb City Police Department, are not doing enough to address alleged incidents of discrimination in their community.

KHQA’s Marcus Espinoza spent the day in Macomb working for you to uncover all sides of this story.

Does Macomb have a racism and diversity problem?

KHQA spoke with the Chief of Police of Macomb and the Mayor of Macomb to get their response on what efforts are being taken to address that claim.

“Aside from the family that adopted us, my husband and I feel very much alone here, there’s no community here,” Merrill Cole said.

Merrill Cole works at Western Illinois University and is an ally of the Democratic Women of McDonough County.

That group has put out a call for action on Tuesday, to address what it believes is an inadequate response from Macomb city leadership and law enforcement.

“We have witnessed acts of hatred that continue to go unchallenged by our city leaders," Democratic Women of McDonough County President Heather McMeekan said. "We’ve sent experts, allies, and witnesses for months into city hall with offers of assistance. Unfortunately, all of our requests to city leadership for anti-hate actions, are instead being diverted to conversations, which are enlightening but do nothing to provide witness, validation and protection for those at risk.”

KHQA spoke with Michael Inman, the Mayor of Macomb on the phone.

He said he understands the need for protection for minorities and LBGTQ community members, and believes these conversations are the correct step.

“We’ve had a series of four town hall meetings where close to four hundred people have attended those from across the community abroad, diverse representation of leaders, and general folks in the community getting together,” Inman said.

Candance Whitman attended one of those meetings and says she was not happy with what she heard.

“After a series of activities and sharing, the Macomb Chief of Police decided to share that he was happy to report that everyone in his small group had to think back 25 years to a time when they were disrespected and that it reflected on how bright of a place it was to live in Macomb," Whitman said. "Of course, this is happening because it is not a great place to live in Macomb for many people.”

KHQA showed Whitman’s comment to Macomb Police Chief Curt Barker.

“They had five or six people in every group and to have that many individuals who have lived here in Macomb their entire life and they had to go back 25 years to think of an incident to when it’s occurred. To me that is something positive in our community. That is not something that is happening day in and day out," Chief Barker said.
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The Mayor of Macomb did reach back out to KHQA to confirm that he is meeting with two city council members to further discuss these concerns that have been brought up.

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