West Bloomfield police called to investigate protests and graffiti

‘We take these types of incidents very seriously’

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published March 4, 2024

File photo


WEST BLOOMFIELD — Recent reports of traffic obstruction and graffiti have gotten the attention of the West Bloomfield Police Department.

On Feb. 15, the Knollwood Country Club, located at 5050 W. Maple Road, was set to host a Friends of the Israel Defense Forces event.

At approximately 6:30 p.m. that evening, officers were dispatched to the club due to approximately 30 people obstructing traffic and blocking the entrance/exit of the parking lot of the club, according to Deputy Chief Dale Young.

“The group had several signs with pro-Palestinian messages,” Young said. “According to the report, the group of people that were there did not identify themselves, and when I say ‘did not identify themselves,’ what I’m referring to is that nobody said that, ‘We’re with this group or that group.’ Officers on-scene evaluated the situation, and no arrests were made.”

According to Young, the event scheduled at Knollwood was eventually moved to another  location in the township.

“The officers asked the people to move along, and once they figured out that there was no event that was happening at the country club, they moved on,” Young said. “The officers did not disclose to the group where the event was going to be held elsewhere in the township.”

However, later that evening, Young said, a group of protesters unexpectedly showed up in the parking lot of the alternate venue of the Friends of the IDF event.

The protesters did not identify themselves as being a part of any particular group, and it is not known if they were with the same group that was at Knollwood earlier that evening, according to Young.

“In the presence of West Bloomfield police officers, venue staff told the protesters that they were not allowed at their closed event or to remain on their private property,” Young said. “The protesters eventually left the property. West Bloomfield police officers were able to ensure the safety of all those who were there. No damage was reported and no arrests were made.”

At approximately 10:40 a.m. Feb. 16, staff from Knollwood discovered graffiti on the grounds of the club, according to Young.

The graffiti was discovered on a utility box attached to a traffic light pole at the exit of the parking lot, on signs and on part of the wall of the club.

Among what was spray-painted in black, according to Young was, “(Expletive) FIDF; I hope you die instead.”

It was not clear at press time if the graffiti had been connected to the protesters.

Noah Arbit is the representative for state House District 20, which comprises all of West Bloomfield.

“It is unbelievable that I even have to state this, but threatening or assaulting Jews will not ‘free Palestine’; desecrating Jewish institutions will not ‘free Palestine’; and calling for the destruction of Israel and the death of Jews will not ‘free Palestine,’” Arbit stated via a press release.

Along with expressing gratitude to the West Bloomfield Police Department, including Chief Michael Patton, for helping to keep residents safe, Arbit also pointed out previous action that was taken in the Michigan Legislature that could have an impact when instances such as what happened at Knollwood arise.

“My first bill passed into law, the Institutional Desecration Act (PA 277 of 2023), establishes penalties for vandalizing, destroying or desecrating houses of worship or communal institutions, like Knollwood Country Club,” Arbit stated via the release. “Attacks like these on our institutions send shockwaves throughout the Jewish community and are exactly why my legislation passed with bipartisan support. I hope perpetrators of hateful acts of vandalism like this one can be identified and brought to justice under the full extent of Michigan law.”

In another part of his statement, Arbit added that, “While it is not anti-Semitic to express concerns or criticisms about the actions of the Israeli military or government in the ongoing war against the terrorist group Hamas, there can be zero justification or zero tolerance for vandalizing Jewish institutions, threatening and assaulting Jews, or intimidating Jewish students on school campuses.”

Young shared a message for residents.

“We take these types of incidents very seriously, and we hope that the public would make us aware of incidents like this so that we can investigate it, because, obviously, this is something that is unfortunate, and something we (want to) make sure we are giving the utmost attention,” he said.