Gross Pointe City – Police are investigating what appears to be a hate crime after a makeshift booze was left in the men’s restroom at a Panera store in The Village on the evening of December 30.
On December 30, between approximately 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., Grosse Pointe City Public Safety Director John Alcorn said, a male Panera employee entered the men’s restroom and hung paper towels from a bathroom stall. Got a noose. The employee is black, but it was unclear at press time whether Gallows was the target of him or someone else; Alcorn said police did not find any graffiti or notes in the restrooms that referred to any specific individuals.
Alcorn said police are taking this incident very seriously and treating it as a threat.
“You have to take it seriously because of the heinous nature of the symbol,” Alcorn said. “It is a symbol of hatred, violence and murder.”
The NAACP states that lynchings were “violent public acts that white men used to terrorize and control black people in the 19th and 20th centuries, especially in the South.”
Records maintained by the NAACP show that more than 4,700 lynchings are estimated to have occurred in the United States between 1882 and 1968, although the actual number is believed to be higher. 72% of those victims were black.
Alcorn said the suspect or suspects involved in the incident could face hate crime, harassment and other possible charges. Alcorn said that, even if the person or persons responsible for setting the noose thought of their actions as a joke, “there is nothing funny about it”.
“It’s disgusting,” Alcorn said. “It is not something that is welcome.”
The Grosse Pointe City Public Safety Department has contacted the Grosse Pointe-Harper Woods branch of the NAACP regarding the incident.
“It’s something that’s been going on since the 1600s and is embedded in the roots of our forefathers,” said Henry Wilson, the new president of the Grosse Pointe and Harper Woods branch of the NAACP.
Wilson said that in addition to facing consequences, the suspect or suspects involved in the incident may need to be educated about the seriousness of their actions.
A group of about four white male teenagers, who were at a Panera and used the restroom around the time they were believed to have been hanged, are possible suspects, but Alcorn said police are not ruling out others. Because business was busy and crowded.
“It’s a investigative mistake (not) to look at everyone,” Alcorn said.
He said a detective was immediately assigned to the case, although other detectives and officers are likely to be involved.
“It’s a holiday weekend, but when something like this comes up, we come to work,” Alcorn said.
Alcorn said this is the first incident of its kind in the city as far as he can remember.
This isn’t the first visible display of racism at The Points in recent memory. In early 2021, a resident of Wyburn Street in Grosse Pointe Park placed a KKK flag in a side window of his home, which faced the home of a black family. In June 2020, a curtain rope was turned into a noose and hung in a classroom at Grosse Pointe South High School in Grosse Pointe Farms.
At the same time, many residents of Grosse Pointe have been vocal in their condemnation of racism in recent years. Circa 2016, the Grosse Pointes and Harper Woods branch of the NAACP was established. Large groups of residents of all ages and ethnicities participated in a series of peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstrations in The Points in 2020. In 2021, a historical marker was placed at Grosse Pointe South High School to commemorate the 1968 visit and speech by civil rights activists. Icon Martin Luther King Jr.
City officials have expressed outrage over the hanging at Panera, located in the city’s bustling Village Business District.
“The City of Grosse Pointe condemns this act,” City of Grosse Pointe Mayor Sheila Tomkowiak said in a prepared statement. “This is a hate crime that is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in our community. The noose as a symbol of human oppression and violence has no place here. Any attempt at racial intimidation will be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law. City Public The security department is probing the matter.”
Tomkovic said anyone with more information about the incident should contact the Department of Public Safety at (313) 886-3200. 2244. Alcorn said tipsters can remain anonymous.