Man accused of online threats in Michigan gets probation

Aug 18, 2017

A man who authorities say posted threatening, anti-Semitic messages on Twitter has been placed on probation for two years in western Michigan. The Grand Rapids Press reports 31-year-old David Lenio of Grand Rapids learned his punishment on Thursday after being convicted in July of malicious use of a telecommunications device. 

In an effort to help victims of crime who may be reluctant to come forward, the Kent County Prosecuting Attorney’s office and the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan have partnered to create an on-site victim assistance program.

Courtesy Grand Rapids Police Department

The Grand Rapids Police Department is asking for the public's help with identifying a man who hung an American flag with a swastika painted on it from an overpass over Interstate 196. Police say officers were called to the overpass before 7 a.m. Monday on a report of a man who was seen hanging the flag from the overpass. 

Officers removed the flag about 10 minutes later just after arriving on the scene. Police say the suspect is described as a male in his 20s with black hair and wearing a leather jacket.

He was seen walking in the grass down toward the highway.

Daniel Boothe

In the aftermath of the chaotic and deadly white supremacy rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, hundreds of people packed Rosa Park Circle in downtown Grand Rapids Sunday evening to stand in solidarity with “their fallen comrade” and protest white nationalism. On Saturday, 32-year-old Heather Heyer lost her life protesting a white supremacist march in Charlottesville when a car driven by 20-year-old James Alex Field Junior intentionally ploughed into the group of protestors.

A study released this week by the Michigan League for Public Policy concluded that while infant death numbers are down in the state of Michigan, African American infants have a death rate that’s twice as high as white infants. And Strong Beginnings in Grand Rapids is tackling the issue head on.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is distancing herself from her comment earlier this year about the nation's historically black colleges and universities being pioneers of school choice, saying that in the past "there were no choices" for African-Americans in higher education. DeVos tells The Associated Press , 

"These HBCUs provided choices for black students that they didn't have." She alienated many African-Americans in February when she described historically black colleges as "real pioneers when it comes to school choice."

Michigan Department of Civil Rights officials say a veteran's front-yard sign advertising the sale of his home violates state and federal anti-discrimination laws because it indicates the owner won't sell to foreigners. A column in the Lansing State Journal says James Prater's sign in front of his home in Mason says "Terms No foreigners Iraq vet" next to "For Sale by Owner." 

One of America's largest philanthropic foundations is awarding about $24 million in grants to help fight racism in the United States. The money from the Kellogg Foundation will go over the next few years to organizations in 13 cities and one state to build what the foundation calls "mutually respectful relationships across racial and ethnic lines."

La June Montgomery Tabron is the foundation's president and CEO. She says "we must all act in big and small ways to help people heal from the effects of racism."

Michigan lawmaker's bill would ban use of Redskins mascot

Jun 26, 2017

A Michigan lawmaker has introduced legislation that would ban the use of the Redskins mascot for public schools in the state. Republican state Sen. Wayne Schmidt of Traverse City serves Michigan's 37th Senate District, which covers the northwest part of the Lower Peninsula and the eastern part of the Upper Peninsula. His district includes five tribal governments and Schmidt says his legislation was crafted with their help. 

Come Together

Mar 29, 2017
Tribes Church

Tribes Church presents Come Together, a night of music, worship and stories all centered around healing the racial divide. We talk to Abi Grala on the details.