Banglatown welcome sign debuts a bit altered

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan joins community members for the unveiling of the modified sign.

Detroit ­— Tensions rose Saturday when a civic group unveiled a welcoming sign to Banglatown that had been altered by some the night before who disagreed with its wording.

Around 100 members of the community and elected officials gathered to celebrate the placement of the welcome at 13330 Conant on the border of Detroit and Hamtramck.  

Kawsar Khan, of the Bangladeshi American Public Action Committee, said they spent six months and $10,000 on the sign only to find out some members of the community had spray painted over things they disagreed with. 

"There was a disagreement on the words and symbols on the sign and community members took it upon themselves to modify it," Khan said. "We could have done a better job at communicating but there are so many different people and we really see this place as a melting pot." 

The original sign read "Welcome to Banglatown, a touch of south Asian hospitality" and had a rickshaw on one side and a folk singer on the back which said, "Thank you for visiting Banglatown."

The Welcome to Banglatown sign had been spray painted by community members and continued to be modified.

Community members placed a white decal over the words "a touch of south Asian hospitality" to read "Bangladeshi American Community." A Bangladesh and American flag was also placed over what used to be the rickshaw. 

The folk singer was replaced by a photo of the Jatiyo Sriti Shoudho, the national monument of Bangladesh, in memory of those who sacrificed their lives in the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971. 

MD Alam, 50, thanked those who donated the sign, but said it needed to be changed because it didn't properly represent the community. 

"We needed something like this, but at the end of the day, we catch the presence of the community from the people here, not the people from the suburbs who donated it," Alam said. 

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Hamtramck Mayor Karen Majewski spoke during event saying they are excited for the sign to represent the community.  

"When the Bangladeshi American Community came to us and said 'we want to have a define town'...we were very supportive and (Detroit City Councilman) Scott Benson really pushed this, so I am happy to present to you today, Banglatown," said Duggan. 

Benson, who represents the 3rd District where they sign is placed, said "our communities flow back and forth and we are happy to represent and welcome all families to Banglatown."

None of the elected officials made any comment about the sign changes.

About 100 members of the community joined to celebrate the unveiling Saturday.

Twitter: @SarahRahal_