Macomb County’s two largest communities are taking steps to support Ukraine, both symbolic and in the marketplace.
And they call on community leaders across the United States to follow their example.
Sterling Heights said it had stripped Russia of $ 679,000 in investments in Sterling Heights pension funds and health care retirement funds. As of March 9, all Russian investments have been liquidated, the press release said.
“The city council and I agree that it made no sense for the city of Sterling Heights to deal with Russia at any level in light of the atrocities committed against innocent citizens of Ukraine,” Mayor Michael Taylor said in a release.
Taylor added: “We urge cities across the country to take similar action.”
If states, counties, cities and towns elsewhere in the United States take similar steps, it will deal a sharp blow to Russian markets, officials say.
The move came about three weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the military to launch a large-scale invasion of Ukraine under the guise of a “peacekeeping mission.” He officially recognized the breakaway Ukrainian republics of Donetsk and Luhansk as sovereign states independent of the country’s government.
The invasion has received worldwide condemnation.
In addition to the buyout, Sterling Heights is taking the following steps to show its support for Ukraine:
• The Halo on Hall Road – a 35-foot sculpture of a gold ring in the middle in front of Lakeside Mall – will be illuminated by the yellow and blue colors of the Ukrainian flag by the end of March. City officials hope the special lighting will be a symbolic measure for the thousands of motorists who drive through the city every night.
• Sterling Heights appealed to refugee accommodation organizations to inform them that the city is a safe haven for Ukrainians and refugees.
• The city acknowledged the suffering of Ukrainians and accepted donations to help last week’s cultural exchange event hosted by the Sterling Heights Ethnic Community Committee.
Meanwhile, Warren Mayor Jim Fauts and Treasurer Lori Barnwell attended the Ukrainian flag-raising ceremony on Wednesday in front of City Hall. At the event, a number of speakers commented on Russia’s military actions.
Fauts also said in a post on social media that he would support changes to the U.S. Refugee Act that would allow displaced Ukrainians to come to the United States. At the very least, Fauts writes, any Ukrainian refugee who has a relative in the United States should receive refugee status now. He said Warren would welcome refugees from Ukraine.
The mayor also noted that he had ordered two of Warren’s pension systems, the city and police and fire department, to deprive him of any Russian investment.
“We don’t need Russian blood money,” Fauts wrote.
City Comptroller Richard Fox said his staff is studying pension systems to find out what Russian investments in Warren, if any. He expects the project to be completed in the coming weeks.