Ypsilanti Mayor resigns after receiving backlash from community for racist comments

Tuesday, June 23, 2020 - 12:21pm

Ypsilanti Mayor Beth Bashert resigns over criticism of racist comments.

Ypsilanti Mayor Beth Bashert resigns over criticism of racist comments. Buy this photo
Becca Mahon

After protests calling for her to step down, Ypsilanti Mayor Beth Bashert announced her resignation via a Facebook post Tuesday morning, effective at 9 a.m. 

“Sadly, as a result of my actions, there is healing to do to ensure that all residents, including Black, Indigenous, and people of color, enjoy full equity in Ypsilanti,” Bashert’s post said. “That is what I want for our City. I had hoped to participate in that healing process, going forward.”

The protests were in response to Bashert’s comments at a city council meeting on Zoom on June 16. The comment was regarding the reappointment of city Human Relations Commissioner Ka’Ron Gaines, which was being voted on by the council.

“Since I will be crucified if I vote against any Black person on any commission, I’m going to vote ‘yes,’” Bashert said. 

The rest of the panel voted against reappointing Gaines. Councilwoman Nicole Brown, Ward 1, requested for Bashert to apologize during that meeting for the comment.

“I think that is disrespectful, honestly, to our constituents and our community to say that you have to vote ‘yes’ because then, if not, you would be attacked because you didn’t appoint another Black person,” Brown said.

After several councilmembers spoke out against the comments, Bashert offered an apology at the end of the meeting.

“I’ve heard the mistake that I have made, and I apologize, I do,” Bashert said. “I am a white person working energetically and hard on my racism that I was raised in, and I will continue to work on it, and I will continue to speak, and I will continue to ask that I be judged on by my actions more than my words.”

She also posted a formal apology for the comments on Facebook the day after the virtual meeting. 

“Last night at City Council, I made a biased statement and voted based on that statement,” Bashert said. “Then I compounded the whole thing by digging in and getting defensive when questioned. All of those actions were racist. I am deeply ashamed and saddened that I did this. I have spent the time since that meeting feeling remorse, shame, and anger at myself.”

Protesters felt that the apology wasn’t enough and gathered in front of city hall on Monday calling for Bashert’s resignation. The protests were led by Ypsilanti non-profit Survivors Speak. 

“This is not a hate fest,” Trische’ Duckworth, founder of Survivors Speak, said. “We are just wanting what is right for the city of Ypsilanti.”

Several city councilmembers attended the protest and called for the mayor’s resignation. In addition, four of those members ⁠— Annie Somerville, Nicole Brown, Anthony Morgan and Steve Wilcoxen ⁠— had said they would not attend Tuesday’s virtual city council meeting while Bashert is present.

“Moving forward, we need leadership committed to equity, police and public safety reform, community empowerment and, most importantly, a collaborative council working for the greater good of the community and the people that we serve,” Brown said. 

Bashert’s resignation means Mayor Pro-Tem Lois Richardson, whose term expires this November, will temporarily assume the role of mayor. 

Daily Staff Reporter Iulia Dobrin can be reached at idobrin@umich.edu