Saline Community Fights Discrimination In Two Incidents
Residents across Saline are fighting back against bigotry in their community. On Friday evening, two incidents happened that have the community talking.
A man patronizing one of downtown Saline’s restaurants was sitting at a patio table outside of the restaurant, speaking in both English and Spanish when another unidentified person allegedly verbally accosted him for speaking Spanish. The restaurant was unaware of the incident until the next day and told the Sun Times News that they are reaching out to the man who was harassed.
Outside of town, on Ann Arbor-Saline Road, motorists have been passing a gay pride flag on the way into Saline for years. Or at least they did until the evening of June 18 when someone destroyed it.
The Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating the vandalism.
“Sometime between 10:00 p.m. on June 18 and 8:00 a.m. on June 19 the homeowners rainbow flag had been removed and damaged/torn into pieces. The owner reports that the flag has been flying for six years and they have never had any issues prior to now. This was in the 6000 block of Ann Arbor Saline Rd. in Lodi Township,” Washtenaw County Sherriff Director of Community Engagement, Sgt. Derrick Jackson, told the Sun Times News in a statement.
The incident has brought a strong response of support for the owners of the flag from some segments of the Saline community. Krestin Woodside, the Chair of Saline’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee and President of Saline Supports Our Community
– a recently established non-profit that promotes education of diversity and inclusion in Saline as a way of fighting discrimination and promoting education and understanding – said that the incident reminded her of why her organization did what it did.
“I loved seeing that flag when I came into town,” Woodside said in an interview by phone. As a woman of color, Woodside said that she wasn’t sure how safe and accepting people would be to her when she came into town and so seeing a sign of open mindedness and inclusion as she came into Saline made her feel more comfortable for her and her family, which includes a LGBTQ member.
“Besides being of color, my daughter is out. That’s a concern I have for her too, especially since she’s a black female. That’s two things she has going that could be hurtful for a community that’s not accepting or for someone that’s a bigot. Having that single flag I thought ‘Oh, there are good people here,’ and that was amazing. So hearing what happened to it was heartbreaking,” Woodside added.
Saline City Councilor Kevin Camero-Sulak also brought up his dismay over the incident at the June 21 City Council meeting.
“We as a community are appalled,” Camero-Sulak said, Monday. He said the next day in an interview with the Sun Times News that “It was shocking because that flag and post holding it … that’s been there as long as I can remember. … It’s been there at least ten years. And it’s always been kind of cool to be driving into Saline and you see that flag on the right flag, it’s always been there. And to my mind, nothing like this has ever happened to this before.”
Lodi Township officials were not immediately available to respond to a request to comment.