Hate symbols alarm suburban Detroit

On February 16 a disturbing display of hate symbols has left a community shocked and worried. JeDonna Dinges, an African American resident of Grosse Pointe Park in suburban Detroit, noticed her neighbor displaying a KKK flag in his window. 

The flag directly faced Dinges’s home, and after several suspicious incidents with the neighbor, including finding a full can of gasoline in her recycling bin and her neighbor firing his gun off his back porch in the middle of the night, Dinges called authorities. Police said there was little they could do but had the neighbor remove the flag. Officers also brought new curtains to the neighbor’s home, as his girlfriend claimed they couldn’t afford curtains, a claim which Dinges disagreed with, saying, “It’s comical. You can afford a Klan flag but you can’t afford curtains?” As a result of the incident, Dinges expressed her concern for herself and her family on social media and found great support from the community.

The alarming situation is a frightening reminder for many in Michigan, including the Hope College community. Hope’s campus has not been immune to disrespectful and violent displays of hate, and if this can happen in Grosse Pointe Park, something like this could happen in Holland, MI. The incident displays the urgent need for communities to address hateful rhetoric and symbols in society. 

In response to the incident, on February 21, many in the community supported Dinges and her family by setting up a socially distanced rally, where hundreds gathered to support her. Dinges was grateful for the support, saying, “I was overwhelmed with emotion. Many of these people were strangers. They didn’t know me.”

On March 3 prosecutors announced that charges were not going to be filed against Dinges’s  neighbor. The prosecutor for Wayne County, Kym Worthy, said, “There is absolutely no question that what happened to Ms. Dinges was despicable, traumatizing and completely unacceptable. But, very unfortunately in my view, not a crime. The KKK flag, while intending to be visible to Ms. Dinges, was hanging inside of her neighbor’s house.”

Dinges said she understood why charges could not be filed, but she hopes that lawmakers will pay attention to this incident and provide greater change moving forward.

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