A2 City Council supports resolution condemning Shirvell, bullying

Torehan Sharman/Daily
MSA President Chris Armstrong talks with community members after the Ann Arbor City Council passed a resolution condemning bullying. Buy this photo

BY DYLAN CINTI
Daily Staff Reporter
Published October 18, 2010

At a meeting Monday night attended by Michigan Student Assembly President Chris Armstrong, the Ann Arbor City Council unanimously backed a resolution that condemns the actions of Michigan Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell.

Shirvell — currently on a leave of absence from his post in the attorney general’s office — has been the subject of recent national attention for his blog Chris Armstrong Watch, on which he publicly accuses Armstrong of having a “radical homosexual agenda.”

The resolution, passed by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission on Oct. 12, criticizes Shirvell’s continued employment in the Office of the Attorney General, according to an Oct. 13 press release from the MCRC.

“The Commission is … concerned about the scope and nature of the involvement of (Shirvell) in the execution of the work of the Office of the Attorney General,” the press release stated.

The resolution also seeks to prevent “the trauma of bullying and other dangerous abuse,” the press release stated.

At Monday night’s council meeting, Armstrong sat in the audience and watched as several supporters addressed council and voiced opinions in favor of the resolution.

Andre Wilson, a member of the city-sponsored Ann Arbor Human Rights Commission, urged council members to support the resolution because it conveys a strong message against intolerance.

“The ongoing harassment of anyone is a cause of concern,” Wilson told the council members. “When Chris is targeted, we’re all targeted.”

Wilson, who’s openly gay, said Ann Arbor is the perfect city for such a resolution to gain support as it heads to the state level.

“People in Ann Arbor before me have made it a place for a gay person like me to come out,” said Wilson, pointing out that he wasn’t openly gay before moving to the city.

In a separate address to council, Leslie Stambaugh, who's also a member of the Human Rights Commission, said the resolution goes beyond merely criticizing Shirvell.

“The resolution calls on the attorney general to make it clear that his office represents the interests of every Michigan resident,” Stambaugh said.

Like Wilson, Stambaugh cited Ann Arbor’s reputation as a tolerant and progressive city and said the resolution would help further that reputation.

“I think it’s time for Ann Arbor to make a statement that’s consistent with our long history of support for the LGBT community,” Stambaugh said.

When it came time to vote, Councilmember Sandi Smith (D–Ward 1) spoke out in favor of the resolution but said she wished it hadn’t arisen because of an incident of public harassment.

“I wish it were under different circumstances,” Smith said.

She added that the resolution concerns a “particularly difficult topic” for people to talk about and said citizens should be “proactive” about the issue.

Following Smith’s speech, the City Council swiftly endorsed the resolution amid loud applause from members of the audience.

After the meeting, Armstrong stood in the hallway shaking hands and taking pictures with supporters.

Armstrong declined to comment on the resolution.