Hawke said the suspect lives at the Williamsburg Court Apartments complex, 1118 S. Beacon Blvd., where the incident took place May 8. The man's name has not yet been released.
Ottawa County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney John Scheuerle said his office has reviewed the case.
“I authorized the charges this morning,” Scheuerle said Thursday. “It’s ethnic intimidation.”
Scheuerle said the charge is a felony punishable by up to two years in prison.
He said the suspect has also been charged with malicious destruction of property valued at less than $200. This is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in jail.
This is what happened: An African-American maintenance worker was painting a vacant unit at the apartment complex, and then 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 that he was painting.
Andre Daley, executive director of the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance, said the victim is scared and is requesting privacy.
“He’s expressed a general fear of retaliation,” Daley said. “He was doing his job — that is all he was doing.”
To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.
Read the letter sent to residents from the apartment complex staff below: