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.