Campaign flier targets Southfield’s African-Americans

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Southfield — A flier with an offensive message has upset officials in this diverse Oakland County suburb.

The crude flier received by a small portion of the city’s residents last week has in large letters “Let’s get the blacks out of Southfield.” It included photos of several white city officials.

The unsigned handbill also has images of a hooded police officer, resembling a Ku Klux Klan member, pointing a handgun at a black child with a backdrop which includes a Confederate flag.

“This is crazy. We have won awards for diversity and the type of city we run,” said Mayor Donald Fracassi, who has 47 years in Southfield government. “I’ve been fielding calls all day and our residents are furious — upset anyone would suggest these type of lies.

“We’re puzzled by possible motivation. None of this makes any sense.”

The flier includes pictures of Fracassi, deputy police chiefs Nick Loussia and John Fitzgerald, and councilmen Ken Siver and Sidney Lantz. Siver is running for mayor in the November election while Fracassi and Lantz are running for City Council.

Questions to several officials were directed to the city’s public information officer, Michael Manion, who issued the following release Monday afternoon.

“The City of Southfield is proud to be a diverse community that is inclusive of all people. Southfield elected officials, staff and residents of numerous ethnic and religious backgrounds work effectively together every day to maintain the high quality of life that we have all come to expect and appreciate. No Southfield elected officials or staff condone this type of negative, deconstructive and harmful propaganda that is both unfounded and untrue.”

Manion said “fact checking” is being done to determine if any local, state or federal laws have been violated by the flier that appears to have been distributed in a small part of the city’s southeast section between Greenfield and Southfield roads.

“This sounds like the work of someone outside of Southfield and for who knows what reason,” Manion said. “It certainly doesn’t reflect Southfield or what this city is all about. We have won awards for our diversity.”

In the 2010 U.S. Census, Southfield’s population was 71,739, with 70.3 percent of the city’s residents African-American and 29.4 percent white, Hispanic, American Indian or another race. The census estimates the city’s population rebounded in 2014 to 73,002, but does not give a racial breakdown.

In the 2000 census, Southfield’s population was 78,296 — 54.2 percent of it black or African-American and 38.3 percent white.

Manion’s release included comments from Council President Sylvia Jordan, who is also running for mayor in November.

“For the past 50 years, the city of Southfield has been an exemplary example of diversity and cultural inclusiveness,” Jordan said. “Southfield is a wonderful melting pot of families from all cultures who are seeking a great place to call home. It is personally heartbreaking to me to see that someone thinks so little of our community, and our progress, that they would take it upon themselves to attempt to create this false divide.”

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