Police investigate hate speech graffiti in Madison Heights

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published October 18, 2019

 At press time, police were searching for a suspect who recently spray-painted racial slurs and references to the KKK on the outside of a local business in the 400 block of East 13 Mile Road.

At press time, police were searching for a suspect who recently spray-painted racial slurs and references to the KKK on the outside of a local business in the 400 block of East 13 Mile Road.

Photo provided by the Madison Heights Police Department

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MADISON HEIGHTS — City officials in Madison Heights are condemning bigotry and speaking out in support of diversity following a recent incident where hate-filled graffiti was found plastered on the exterior of a local business.

At press time, police were searching for a suspect who had spray-painted racial slurs and references to the Ku Klux Klan on the outside of Octapharma Plasma, a business in the 400 block of East 13 Mile Road. Police were notified of the graffiti Oct. 14. The messages were spray-painted onto the bricks and glass doors of the building.

Upon reviewing surveillance footage, police determined that the incident occurred overnight at 1:08 a.m. The suspect appears to be a white male with glasses. Anyone with information on the identity of the suspect is asked to call the Madison Heights Police Department at (248) 585-2100.

“Threatening and aggressive behavior coupled with hateful messages are something that are not welcome in the city of Madison Heights and will always be vigorously investigated,” said Madison Heights Police Lt. Michael Siladke. “We never initially know what the intentions are of a suspect in cases like these, so it is essential to keep every motive on the table during the investigation and work diligently to identify and prosecute anyone involved.”

Madison Heights Police Chief Corey Haines agreed.

“We have no tolerance for this type of activity in our city, and we will use all means available to bring the suspects to justice,” Haines said.

Madison Heights City Councilman Robert Corbett said he’s very disappointed by the incident.

“We’ve worked very hard in recent years to fashion Madison Heights as an open, diverse and inviting community,” Corbett said. “Various ethnic groups have taken root here in our community and started businesses, churches and community centers to further their growth within American society. And then one person or perhaps a handful of small fanatics come around and try to spread their vision of hate and division. We as a community, from all backgrounds and all cultures, need to stand up and just say no — that isn’t us, that isn’t what what we’re about, and we won’t tolerate it.”

Madison Heights Mayor Pro Tem Mark Bliss acknowledged that such things have happened elsewhere in the country, and he hesitates to give the suspects the attention they crave.

“I do, however, want to highlight how quickly the city and community came together afterwards,” Bliss said. “The city quickly expedited the process of cleaning it up, and while that was happening, the citizens were busy not only denouncing the hateful rhetoric, but they, with assistance from (business owner and City Council candidate) Kymm Clark, put together a peaceful protest to showcase that hate has no place here. I’m proud of how quickly our staff acted, and I’m honored to live in a city whose residents respond to that kind of hate with so much love.”

In a statement, Madison Heights Mayor Brian Hartwell said that racism has no home in Madison Heights.

“In a city where 18 percent of the residents are foreign-born, the City Council, administration and I condemn hateful ideology. I guarantee that law enforcement will investigate (the graffiti incident) to the fullest extent,” Hartwell said. “There are not two valid sides of the argument when dealing with white supremacy. It’s disgusting, it’s unwelcome, and it doesn’t represent the diverse and inclusive community that Madison Heights has grown into.”

The mayor pointed to the ways the city has prospered by embracing diversity, such as its thriving Asian-American business community that numbers 200 businesses strong.

“Our city is a regional example of the increasing returns from unity,” Hartwell said. “The graffiti artist brings shame on himself. His actions do not represent anything beyond his own delusions of restoring America to before the Civil War. Go away — leave us enlightened, loving people alone.”

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