A Detroit suburb has been hit with fliers calling for the removal of Black residents. The Detroit News reported some Southfield residents had received fliers which read, “Let’s get the blacks out of Southfield.”
The fliers also included images of white city officials and a picture of a hooded police officer pointing a gun at a Black child. There was also an image of slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin alongside the message “Zimmerman was right.” The fliers may be linked to an upcoming election, because they also urged residents to support white candidates.
Ken Siver, one of the candidates featured in the flier, took to Facebook to express his condemnation.
“Initially I was considerably upset to learn that someone would produce something like this and make these false and outrageous claims… not to mention to exploit and insult the memory of Trayvon Martin. Truthfully, I am more saddened by the flyer than upset. It is sad because this is not the Southfield we know,” Siver said.
Pat Haynie, president of the city’s Martin Luther King Task Force, said some residents suspected the fliers were an attempt to inject racial politics into a local election.
“We’ve never had this garbage in our community,” Haynie said, adding that both Black and white residents were outraged by the fliers. “I am so proud of our community that came forward and said ‘We will not tolerate this in our city’—we will stop this kind of mess.”
Southfield is a community in the Detroit metro area which is about 70 percent Black. Mayor Donald Fracassi said the city prided itself on its diversity.
“This is crazy. We have won awards for diversity and the type of city we run,” said Fracassi. “I’ve been fielding calls all day and our residents are furious — upset anyone would suggest these type of lies.”
Michael Manion, the city’s public information officer, said the police were checking to see if the fliers had violated local, state or federal laws. He suggested the fliers were placed by someone who didn’t live in the city.
“This sounds like the work of someone outside of Southfield and for who knows what reason,” Manion said. “It certainly doesn’t reflect Southfield or what this city is all about. ”
However, while city officials pride themselves on racial tolerance, there may be tensions caused by the rising Black population. Mlive.com suggested there were class tensions between upper middle-class Black families upset at the recent influx of low-income Blacks fleeing the problems of inner-city Detroit.
“I’ve got people of color who don’t want people of color to move into the city,” said former Southfield Police Chief Joseph Thomas, who is himself Black. “It’s not a black-white thing. This is a black-black thing. My six-figure blacks are very concerned about multiple-family, economically depressed people moving into rental homes and apartments, bringing in their bad behaviors.”
Racist fliers, which used to be common in the South, are now found all over the country in places like Detroit, California and Connecticut. The CNHI News Service reported Pryor, Okla. was plastered with racist fliers after the Charleston church massacre. This was the second time racist fliers were released into the community. On Martin Luther King Day fliers appeared in Pryor condemning King and praising Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.