4/6/23: Protesting in the rain

Thursday, April 6, 2023

High 48°/Low 32° Sunny

Portage students braved the rain to protest what they see as lax gun control laws. Also: The county will hold a special meeting tonight to decide the fate of a downtown arena project. And a lawsuit over a Portage high school graduation will be split between two courts.

News You Need To Know

Portage students walk out to protest gun violence

Hundreds of students at Portage’s two high schools walked out of class on Wednesday, braving the wind and rain to protest what they see as lax gun control laws in Michigan. “Gun violence has taken too many lives. We should not feel unsafe in our schools,” Portage Northern student body vice president Alanna Harris told MLive. Many students held signs with messages such as “This is a school zone, not a war zone.” The students joined about 200 other schools nationwide holding similar protests.

The subject of school shootings is not a new one, but it gained prominence again recently with shootings at Michigan State University and other schools throughout the country. Portage Northern itself was the site of an active shooter report on Feb. 7. Though it was quickly shown to be false, students said it was still stressful. Currently, the Democratic-controlled state legislature is considering several gun control measures, including universal background checks and so-called red flag laws. [MLive]

Special meeting tonight for arena land sale

The Kalamazoo county commission has scheduled a special meeting for tonight. The only item on the agenda is the proposed sale of land in downtown Kalamazoo where an arena and event center could be built. Catalyst Development Co. is behind the $300 million plan, but needs to buy the county-owned parcels to begin work. The commission was set to approve the sale on Tuesday when discussion of the terms of the deal came up. A county vote to halt the deal failed on a 4-4 vote, but board Chair John Taylor decided to pause discussions until today.

The discussion surrounds terms that could benefit disadvantaged communities around the proposed arena. Already, the developer has agreed to contribute $6 million to the Northside Association for Community Development, provide workforce training for nearby residents, and set aside concession space for Black, indigenous, and people of color. A sticking point seems to be an offer of rent discounts for businesses run by people of color. The current proposed discount is 30%, but Commissioner Jen Strebs said on Tuesday that it should be at least 50%. Tonight’s meeting begins at 7pm. [MLive]

Courts to split Portage graduation lawsuit

Part of a lawsuit seeking to reschedule Portage Northern High School’s graduation ceremony will go back to a county courtroom. Senior Minaleah Koffron filed suit against the district because it scheduled graduation on the same day as an important Jewish holiday, Shavuot. Koffron alleges the district is violating her First Amendment rights and the state’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act. A federal judge heard arguments on Tuesday and ruled that he can judge the First Amendment claims, but that the Kalamazoo County Circuit Court would be better suited for arguments related to state law.

Portage Northern’s graduation is scheduled for May 26, but a county judge has issued a temporary restraining order requiring the school to reschedule. The district argues that it is too late to do that without inconveniencing lots of other students and their families. The next hearing will take place on April 20. [Fox 17]

Gov. signs repeal of abortion ban

Calling the law a “zombie,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday signed a repeal of a 1931 law banning abortion in the State of Michigan. The zombie reference refers to the fact the law was unenforceable following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, but came back to life when the court struck down that same ruling last summer. Voters effectively killed it again when they passed a constitutional amendment protecting abortion rights last fall, but state lawmakers felt it was important to remove the rules from state law once and for all.

“Today, we’re going to take action to ensure that our statutes, our laws reflect our values and our constitution,” said Whitmer before signing the bills. But anti-abortion activists called it “a dark day” for women and unborn children. They say the law’s repeal opens the door to unregulated abortion practices. [Bridge Michigan]

Things To Do In Kalamazoo

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Playworks Michigan Playshop – Woods Lake Elementary School
9:00AM 4/6

Intro to Henna Design – Coffee Rescue
6:00PM 4/6

Adult African Diasporic Dance – Rootead
6:30PM 4/6

Garcia Peoples & Chris Forsyth – Bell’s Eccentric Cafe
8:00PM 4/6

Board Game Night – this is a bookstore | Bookbug
5:00PM 4/7

Elemental Press Presents: Recreation Collective Hard Boiled Opening Event – Park Trades Center
5:00PM 4/7

Music with Steve Kamerling – Brick + Brine
6:00PM 4/7

Pitch Night – Startup Zoo
6:00PM 4/7

Pre-Party with Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers – Bell’s Eccentric Cafe
6:20PM 4/7

Ultra Reflection Fashion Show – Kalamazoo County Expo Center
7:00PM 4/7

Live Music with Bear Tracks Music – Green Door Distilling Co.
7:00PM 4/7

The Play That Goes Wrong – WMU, Shaw Theatre
7:30pm 4/7-8, 4/13-15; 2pm 4/16

Roger Clyne and The Peacemakers w/ Parker Ryan – Bell’s Eccentric Cafe
8:00PM 4/7

5th Anniversary Twerk Werk Fest – The Xperience By Luxury Escapes
8:00PM 4/7

The Missing Generation – Old Dog Tavern
8:00PM 4/7

Beginning Birding: Hawks of Kleinstuck – Ayurvedic Wellness Center
8:00AM 4/8

Kalamazoo Indoor Flea Market – Kalamazoo County Expo Center
8:00AM 4/8

Southwest Michigan Beekeeping Expo – Kalamazoo County Expo Center
9:00AM 4/8

Your Story! A Chronicle of Connection – Public Media Network
10:00AM 4/8

Antique Bottle & Glass Show – Kalamazoo County Expo Center
10:00AM 4/8

Kids Workshop: Peter Rabbit’s Garden – Wenke Greenhouse Retail Store
10:00AM 4/8

Art Detectives: Through Georgia’s Eyes – Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
10:30AM 4/8

The Easter Bunny visits Wenke Greenhouses – Wenke Greenhouse Retail Store
10:30AM 4/8

Egg Hunt – Mayors’ Riverfront Park
2:00PM 4/8

Washington Ave Art Crawl – Edison Neighborhood Association
2:00PM 4/8

Classic Movie: Li’l Abner – Portage District Library
2:00PM 4/8

Bell Book and Canto – Dormouse Theatre
6:00PM 4/8

Joshua Davis – Bell’s Eccentric Cafe
8:00PM 4/8

Stand Up Comedy Night – Presidential Brewing Co.
8:00PM 4/8

The Kennedy Affair – Hub Tavern + Grill
9:00PM 4/8

See more upcoming events here.

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