Detroit— Three plainclothes federal agents believe that racism was the reason they were initially denied entrance to a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday morning at Detroit’s newest RiverWalk park.
Two African-American agents said they walked over to the ceremonies at about 10:30 a.m. but allege they were denied entrance by a white guard working for Eagle Security Services.
“He told us we couldn’t go in because the park was closed,” said the agent, who didn’t wish to be identified.
“But I saw other white individuals walk by and he never said anything to them. I asked him what was going on and he said there was security because the lieutenant governor was at the ceremonies.”
The agent said he has contacted the Detroit City Council on the matter and plans to file a complaint.
Mac McCracken, CEO of Eagle Security, said the men were not refused entry.
“They were just asked if they had an invitation because it was an invitation-only event,” he said. The park would open to the public at 1 p.m., he said.
“He was asking random people out front if they had an invitation to keep them from having to walk all the way across the park,” McCracken said. “Everyone was dressed in business attire and a lot of people who weren’t were asked to stop.”
McCracken said that the agents walked up casually dressed and eating potato chips.
“Although they were very nice it was fairly obvious they had just walked up,” he said. “The polite thing was to ask if they had their invitation. Once they were found to be law enforcement they were welcome to come in.”
The agent said they weren’t asked about an invitation, however. He told the security guard he was a federal agent and the guard asked to see identification, he said.
“When I showed him my ID he said I still couldn’t come in,” the agent said. “He said I wasn’t dressed appropriately. I was wearing pants and a Detroit Tigers T-shirt.”
At this point the agents went back to the office and asked a third black agent to accompany them back to the park.
“We went back but the guard we talked to wasn’t there so we talked to another guard and said we wanted to see his supervisor,” the agent said. “ The supervisor came over, said it was a mistake and all we had to do to go in was sign in at a table. But I didn’t see anyone else having to sign in at the table, so what’s going on?”