Allegations of racism by Grosse Pointe Park Police demand action

NOV 19, 2013, 9:00 AM 

Allegations of racism by Grosse Pointe Park Police demand action

The new Grosse Pointe Park Police fiasco is but another illustration of the negative effects of hyper-segregation, which has become one of the unflattering things that many know Metro Detroit for.

In case you haven’t heard, video and pictures have recently surfaced that Grosse Pointe Park Officers have been degrading blacks. One of them includes the police telling a detainee to “dance like a chimp.” Another officer allegedly sent a text message mocking blacks to his colleagues stating “Got to love the coloreds.”

Grosse Pointe Park’s Police Chief initially stated that he was skeptical as to the validity of the video and pictures and deflected the blame to an officer’s ex-wife, inferring that this was a way to smear the officer and, by extension, the police department. Now, he states that he will investigate these allegations. I think that Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and the U.S. Department of Justice ought to investigate as well.

If these videos are indeed authentic, one wonders how such actions could be possible, among a number of officers, in 2013, in such a diverse area as Southeast Michigan? But the answer is simple: This is what happens as a result of invisible walls between communities in which certain areas are dominated by particular ethnic groups to the exclusion of others.

Grosse Pointe Park is about 84% white bordering Detroit, which is about 83% black. This is mirrored in other areas of our region, such as the very white Dearborn Heights bordering the very black Inkster. This segregation has historical roots and is based today moreso in income disparities, which are reflected in race. The remnants of this historical divide in neighboring Grosse Pointe, in which the community made it nearly impossible for homes to be sold to “Orientals” and blacks, is well documented.

Thus, when people of different ethnicities do not live among each other in neighborhoods and only deal with others based upon transactional relationships, the environment is ripe for mockery and dehumanization. This is why, despite what many people continue to say, including McBride’s own parents and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, who is prosecuting McBride’s killer, I believe that the fatal shooting of Renisha McBride had a racial element. The demographic reality that black people simply don’t dwell in her shooter’s area of any significant percentage leads me to this hypothesis.

We will not grow as a region until we flesh out our racial divides. It’s not as bad perhaps as it used to be, yet it’s still an issue with social consequence. Simply ignoring issues doesn’t make them go away.

Organizations such as New Detroit and the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity & Inclusion are needed more than ever in our area. Our religious and cultural institutions need to be even more active and deliberate in bridging our divides. This is one way that we will hopefully get past such behaviors as reportedly happened with the Grosse Pointe Park Police — not by feigning like we are post-racial.



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