Police investigate racial slur

Hateful words written at a Grand Haven apartment complex have prompted a police investigation.
Alex Doty
May 15, 2012


Lt. Renee Freeman of the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety said the hate message was reported on May 8 at the Williamsburg Court Apartments, 1106 S. Beacon Blvd. She said it happened at about 4 p.m. that day when a maintenance worker was painting a vacant unit at the apartment complex.

The worker, an African-American male, had left the apartment for a brief time to retrieve supplies. When he returned, the man found a racial slur — “We don’t want n-----s working here” — written in red marker on the wall he was painting.

Grand Haven Public Safety Director Jeff Hawke condemned the incident.

“No community in the state or around the nation is immune from the hate-filled actions of those that propagate racism,” Hawke said. “The Grand Haven Department of Public Safety will investigate this case and seek prosecution for the individual responsible.”

As a result of the incident, the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance is hosting a community forum from 7-9 p.m. Wednesday at the Grand Haven Community Center, 421 Columbus Ave.

“We think this is a good opportunity, when something like this happens, to not sit on it and instead create an opportunity for dialogue and healing,” said Andre Daley, the alliance's associate executive director.

The forum will include people from the business, education, government, public sector and faith communities.

“We know how impactful it can be if we don’t address it,” Daley said.

Daley said he was hopeful that the community could respond and come up with a positive solution to this and other events, such as the ethnic intimidation that occurred recently in Spring Lake at Chan’s Chinese restaurant.

“If we don’t give an opportunity for that to happen, then this is not a very inclusive community,” Daley said.

City Manager Pat McGinnis, who is expected to attend Wednesday’s forum, said the city is supportive of the meeting.

“We’re certainly on board with any community discussion that needs to be held to understand our differences,” he said.

McGinnis said the topic is one that this generation and previous generations have all had to cope with.

“We should be doing what we can to better appreciate our differences,” he said.

Anyone with information regarding the incident at the apartment complex is encouraged to call the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety at 842-3460 or Silent Observer at 1-877-88-SILENT.



A white couple was brutally beaten in Norfolk, VA by a gang of black men. The paper they worked for didn't report it and the police didn't investigate the attack. Yet some idiot writes words on a wall in Grand Haven and all hell breaks loose. For the record, how many detectives are they putting on this case?


I'm with you tartarus12 on this one. Sounds like sensationalism that is not needed or warranted and someone trying to make mountains out of mole hills. I think we have bigger fish to fry than this incident. Check out all the graffitti that is rising in the area. Don't try and tell me that the area is not changing because it is. This is NOT the Grand Haven of the 70's anymore.


Thumbs up Tartarus12. My last comment was censored. Truth hurts sometimes.


I cannot believe the only two comments so far are from people trying to brush this off as sensationalism. Grand Haven and the Tri-Cities area needs a serious wake up call. Yes, this is "some idiot" writing words on a wall. But they are some of the most injurious, loaded, threatening words one stranger can write to another. They are not JUST words; they attack human dignity and respect. Incidents like this make Grand Haven look bad and unwelcoming. For the record, if that maintenance worker or any other not-White people are reading this comment, the "we" that that idiot referred to in his or her graffiti does not exist. "WE" apologize for the cruelty of this graffiti. "WE" are glad you are coming to work and fix up our apartments so that there are affordable apartments for even idiots to live in.


The comment of graffitti made was about the recent graffitti on walls of other institutions in the area. I'm talking gang graffitti and had nothing to do with racial slurs at your complex. We ALL go up against some form or kind of racism every day. Try being Italian. All my life I've had to hear stereotype comments that my family was in organized crime(Mafia). And yes I had racial slurs thrown at me. I got called a WHOP all the time which means Without Papers. Meaning my ancestors entered the country illegally. Which we did not. But nonetheless still was callled that. Did I let it bother me? No. I'd always come back and say you've been watching too many Godfather movies and laugh it off. I didn't try to use a race card in my defense. NEVER. I think you need to wake up and smell the coffee. You obviously do not live in the real world. Why is it that only White people can be racists? Have you ever given any thought to that? Probably not. Because you have a closed mind. Have a nice day.


I also don't think people should be expected to laugh off racial slurs. Like any other form of harassment, it's unacceptable and disrespectful of every human being's dignity. In Grand Haven and Spring Lake, 98 or so percent of people are White and so a huge majority. Nobody's trying to use a "race card"; it's just the way it is. I suppose there's a chance that a non-White person wrote that graffiti, but chances are low.


I firmly believe that a liberal's biggest fear is that other liberals will think they're racist. Unfortunately, I think this mentality is seeping into the mainstream of society. nmcdan03 alluded to this belief in his initial response. I wasn't trying to sensationalize this incident. I was merely pointing out the overreaction when compared to the Norfolk attack. I'm of Irish descent. If you want to write "I hate dumb Micks" on your wall go right ahead. I'll get a good laugh out of it. If you try to pull me out of my car and beat me up, my response will definitely change the way you feel about me.

That leads me to a thought. If a white couple were pulled out of their car on the corner of Washington & Harbor by a black mob and beaten, would the Tribune cover the story? Would GHPD investigate? I can't say for certain they would. I find it disturbing that in today's society a certain amount of black on white violence will be tolerated.

I'm really not concerned what one person writes on a wall. Unless you see gang graffiti around town. Then don't keep it to yourself. That is a sign of pending problems.


@nmcdan03, the only accurate part of your post was "some idiot writing words on a wall." The rest, IMO is incompetent drivel. You sound like our president apologizing to everyone. How do you walk around this town with no spine? Words cannot hurt you if, you do not love or respect the person that is saying them. Grand Haven or the Tri-Cities does not need a wake up call. Go compare the Tri-Cities to Muskegon, Benton Harbor, Holland, Saginaw, Detroit, Milwaukee, Flint, Dearborn, Pontiac, or Gary, Indiana and get back to us as to what you find.


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