Accusations of racial profiling divert Council agenda

By Anahita Monga

The agenda for Monday night’s Urbana City Council meeting was supposed to be about highway codes, reconstructing certain streets and authorizing transportation agreements. However, during public input, speakers claimed the Urbana Police have been harassing the black population of the town.

Alderman Brandon Bowersox said the sudden public interest was a reaction to a News-Gazette article about a racial breakdown report from August.

He said that “since the people just read this article in the newspaper, this is why there was so much discussion about it tonight.”

Most of the meeting was spent discussing the crime in Urbana and how it can be addressed.

“I have been following the criminal news and the police in Urbana and the government officials have the greatest potential to take away people’s rights and allows them to have the full ability to decide who they are going to harm,” said Dianna Visek, chair of the Champaign County Libertarian Party and a resident of Urbana.

Part of the meeting was spent discussing preparations for the Market at the Square, which will start May 2.

To get ready for the Market at the Square in May, the city of Urbana is using new marketing tools, especially social networking Web sites like Facebook, Twitter and Flickr in addition to the traditional marketing tools like print, TV, radio and ads.