Dozens show up to Temple council meeting voicing support, dismay with special commission
TEMPLE, Texas (KWTX) - There was a lot of back-and-forth in Thursday night in Bell County over three words: diversity, equity and inclusion.
Those words brought Temple residents to city hall to voice their anger and disappointment with the city council.
This follows a move earlier this week by the mayor and city manager to not contract with a Chicago-based group.
“You noted that the D.E.I. commission’s purpose was to advise the city council and staff,” said Camryn Bintz, who spoke during Thursday’s meeting. “But instead, allowing your commission to do just that, you bowed to the pressures of a hate group.”
It was just about standing room only in the council chambers. The subject the people wanted to talk about was not even on the city agenda.
D.E.I.: diversity, equity and inclusion.
Last year the city appointed a commission to try and further those points within city staff.
but a group called Concerned Christian Citizens, voiced its opposition to a firm called Nova Collective, which the D.E.I commission was considering to spearhead those efforts in the city. However, the commissioners recommendation for Nova was never officially brought in front of the city council.
“Lets be clear, this is not about religious freedom, but religious domination,” said Laura Betik, another speaker. “I am a Christian and I have been for much of my life, I grew up Southern Baptist.”
The group against Nova even rallied outside Temple City Hall after the mayor and city manager said there would be no contracts with the firm earlier this week.
“We’re opposed to the D.E.I. initiative because it is a Marxist initiative and it has nothing to do with your personal beliefs,” said David Carter. “This is communist dogma.”
But others, sternly disagreed, saying the commission exists because internal changes are necessary in the city following the 2019 shooting death of Michael Dean, an unarmed black man killed by a former Temple officer.
“We need to go back to the drawing board and remember what the D.E.I. commission – why it came about,” said Terris Goodwin.
And with the city’s decision to handle D.E.I. initiatives internally, many were ready with speeches in hand to challenge that notion. Some, like Amanda Sudaz, still hopeful in the power of the D.E.I commission.
“I do feel that a survey is necessary,” said Sudaz. “Was Nova Collective the best choice for us, maybe not. Do I have confidence in the city doing it internally, I’m going to be honest with you, no.”
Others, thought the commission was a waste of time.
“We need to stop this movement, D.E.I. it sounds so great. We need to stop this movement that traps us with its bait,” said Keith Gilberston.
Even with all the pleas and poems, the D.E.I. commission stays and no promise of any outside agencies coming in.
“But I don’t think that our city, saying we are going to do internal surveys is the answer,” said Goodwin.
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