Detroit business owner apologizes for spitting on security guard

Blake Alsup
The Detroit News
Robert Stanzler, owner of Detroit Mercantile.

A business owner in Detroit's Eastern Market district has apologized for spitting on a security guard over a parking dispute on Tuesday.

Robert Stanzler, owner of The Detroit Mercantile Co., was videoed raising his middle finger and spitting on Ibrahim Mission, a security officer enforcing parking rules.

He took to his business and personal accounts to share a statement of apology.

"I want to express my deepest apology to Mr. Ibrahim Mission, for the incident that occurred ... during the course of an argument I had with him over parking spaces at my place of business in Eastern Market," Stanzler said in a statement posted to his Facebook account. "I take full responsibility for my actions, and want to convey regret for my gross and despicable behavior during the course of my argument with Mr. Mission."

Stanzler said he was angry because of "escalated parking challenges" in the district, specifically a conflict related to parking spaces between his business and a neighboring one.

The apology came one day after Mission posted video footage of the incident to his Facebook page.

Stanzler said he attempted to apologize immediately after the incident, but due to the "heated circumstances," his apology wasn't properly conveyed. He plans to speak with Mission directly and apologize again.

"Not only did I offend Mr. Mission by my actions, but I owe an apology to those who witnessed the incident, my staff, fellow business owners in Eastern Market, residents of Detroit; and friends and family who may bear this burden with me," Stanzler wrote.

Scott Rutterbush, Rakesh Lala and David Brown, owners of The Eastern, which is a multi-use industrial space for hosting events that shares a building with The Detroit Mercantile Co., released a statement regarding Stanzler's actions toward Mission. 

"The situation initiated by Mr. Robert Stanzler was unfortunate, disappointing and insulting on every level," their statement said. "His behavior represents what we as a community, city and society should work to abandon, not embrace. Our concern now is for our employee, Ibrahim Mission who was demeaned by Mr. Stanzler, and our guests who were subjected to this behavior. We won’t tolerate or condone this type of behavior."

By early Thursday, The Detroit Mercantile Co. Facebook page was flooded with 1 star reviews. In those reviews and other comments on the social media site, users talked of boycotting the company.

Sgt Nicole Kirkwood, a Detroit police spokeswoman, did not confirm Stanzler’s identity, but did say the alleged suspect in the incident was arrested Tuesday and released Wednesday, pending further investigation.

Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Maria Miller said on Thursday the office had not yet been presented with any paperwork regarding Stanzler.

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