Grosse Pointe Park residents rally after KKK flag was hung in home

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

Carol Bendure said she decided to join a rally in support of a Black Grosse Pointe Park resident whose neighbor allegedly hung a KKK flag to show another side of her community.

"Because what happened doesn't represent our community. This represents our community better I think," Bendure said, standing in a socially distanced line outside St. Ambrose Church as several hundred people queued up Sunday afternoon to walk in the "Hate Has No Home Here" rally in Grosse Pointe Park.

Police are investigating the incident in which a red, black and white KKK flag was hung in a large side window where it faced only one neighbor, JeDonna Matthews Dinges, an African American woman.

 Attempts to reach the person who allegedly hung the flag have been unsuccessful.

JeDonna Matthews Dinges speaks during the rally at St. Ambrose Church.

Dinges said since the incident she has received an outpouring of support and offers of help from people across the United States. 

"I had no idea this was going to happen like this," Dinges said. "People don't want this in their neighborhood. Hate has no home in Grosse Pointe. It has no home in America."

Supporters of Dinges organized the rally and invited people to attend by wearing masks, walking up and down Wayburn in socially distanced groups and listening to speakers who were broadcast via FaceBook live outside the church.

Javier Lopez, 10, said he was bothered by what happened to his neighbor and is happy she stood up to speak about it. He attended the Sunday rally with his parents, Francisco and Tammy Lopez and his two younger siblings, Joaquin, 8 and Anasofia, 5.

"That person (the flag owner) was totally wrong and I am glad the Black person told everyone about this," Javier said, holding a sign that said LOVE in red, pink and purple letters.

5-year-old Anasofia Lopez of Grosse Pointe Park and her brother Joaquin Lopez, 8, background, hold signs before the rally.

Tammy said she brought the children to take a stand. Each child held a homemade sign with colored messages against hate and racism and for love.

"We want to show we are not going to tolerate hate anywhere especially in our community and we want to show our kids that this is unacceptable in how to behave. And they are really bothered by it, that this could happen," she said.

Supporters of JeDonna Matthews Dinges organized the rally and invited people to walk up and down Wayburn in socially distanced groups and listen to speakers who were broadcast via Facebook live outside the church.

Dinges said she called the FBI and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel's office to report the flag incident. 

A spokesperson for the Attorney General's Office said Sunday that it has no role in the matter because it is not illegal.

Victoria Wittenberg,18, of Grosse Pointe Park and her mom, Kelly Wittenberg, both holding signs, walk north on Wayburn Street.

The rally was attended by state lawmakers, locally elected leaders, clergy and others.

State Sen. Adam Hollier urged the protesters to take responsibility for their neighborhood and speak up when something is wrong.

"This isn't the first time something like has happened. The difference this time is that more than just Black people felt it was unacceptable," Hollier said.

Hollier said speaking up may not change how people feel or what they believe, but that is not the goal.

"When you step up and say what is most important is that we protect neighbors, that we say this is not acceptable in our community things like this stop," Hollier said.