2005-05-24 WOOD-TV 8 "Whites-only group looking to recruit members"

Whites-only group looking to recruit members

It's a new group looking to recruit new members, and it has just one requirement. You have to be white. The group goes by the name White Voices of America, a whites-only group calling for fair and equal treatment of white people in West Michigan.

Members of White Voices of America say they don't shave their heads or wear white hoods, but they do believe in rights for whites. The group claims to be neither racist or radical, telling people they're just interested in helping with the problems facing white America. White Voices of America says its mission is not to separate and alienate the races, but it says someone has to look out for the interest of whites just as the NAACP does for blacks.

The group has been busy passing out flyers in Spring Lake, Ferrysburg, and Grand Haven. The flyers surfaced last week. The title caught eyes and turned heads. There it was in black and white: White Voices of America, a group calling for a whites-only family picnic and political discussion.

While the group is working hard to recruit new members, others are plotting ways to counter the group's message. Joel Toppen is with the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance. Since coming across the flyers, he's been busy contacting educators, city leaders, churches, and business owners to come up with a way to drown out the whites-only voice and message.

"I think it would be a mistake if we get bogged down in trying to figure out who's racist and who isn't racist. It's clear they have a whites only agenda," Toppen says.

Toppen says communities like Ferrysburg, Spring Lake, and Grand Haven, where the flyers were handed out, already struggle with issues of diversity and inclusion. He says the area does not have an image of being inclusive and welcome.

"We do not want the tri-cities area to be whites-only. We want this to be a inclusive community," Toppen says. "White-only values are not tri-cities values and are not West Michigan values."

Several people in the tri-cities area have expressed concern to the police about the group's activity, but police officers say White Voices of America has a legal right to post flyers and share its message with the public.

24 Hour News 8 talked with a member of the group about its mission, but he turned down our invitation to speak on camera. Organizers of the group do say they will hold a event soon in Spring Lake, and the police say they will be there to maintain order and keep the peace.