On May 08, 2012, a racially inflammatory statement was written in red marker on a wall at an apartment community in Grand Haven. An African American man, who serves as a maintenance technician for the community, momentarily left an apartment he was preparing for a new resident to get supplies from a nearby maintenance room. When he returned he found the slur on the wall of the unit.
The following week on May 16, a community forum was organized by the Diversity Alliance to provide community members the opportunity to share concerns for acts and attitudes that conflict with the desires of the Tri-Cities community to be a place that genuinely welcomes people of diverse backgrounds.
About 75 community members attended the forum, which was held at the Grand Haven Community Center. The forum was facilitated by Andre Daley, Diversity Alliance Associate Executive Director and Sarah Salguera, Diversity Alliance Program Director.As of May 18, police have identified a likely suspect that they say is linked to the racial slur and made an arrest. The suspect is awaiting arraignment facing criminal charges ranging from ethnic intimidation to malicious destruction of property.
Panelists that shared their thoughts on why diversity is important and what each sector can do to promote include were: James W.F. Brooks, Chair of Diversity Alliance CEO Advisory Council; Brian Wheeler, Grand Haven Assistant Superintendent of Technology; Patrick McGinnis, Grand Haven City Manager; and Pastor Ron James, Antioch Christian Center.
Attendee feedback included:
"I don't have the answers, but I would love to be part of the solution. I am raising my hand tonight."
"We want Grand Haven to be a vibrant community. Not just because of our lake, but because of our people."
"We can all hover the online boards of local media to actively show support of diversity and inclusion. So many times the comment boards are counterproductive. We as a community can make them a productive source of continued dialogue on the topics of critical importance to the growth of our community."