DETROIT (WWJ) – A Civil Rights group is demanding that Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan take down a purportedly racist Facebook post featuring a pair of black children and a campaign yard sign.
Sam Riddle, political director of the Michigan Chapter of the National Action Network, called the photo of the smartly dressed, smiling kids an offensive reminder of Jim Crow symbols.
“Come on, mayor!” Riddle said, in an interview with WWJ’s Vickie Thomas. “We’re in a city, Detroit, which now has a 40 percent unemployment rate, we’re in a city, Detroit, where 80 percent of the children live in abject poverty, and this Mayor Duggan is depicting our children as lawn jockeys pushing his yard signs.”
“The people of Detroit, and certainly the children of Detroit, deserve much more than this racist caricature of children that are in pain in America’s blackest and poorest children.”
In a media release calling for removal of the post, Michigan NAN President Rev. Charles Williams II said that these are racially sensitive times in Detroit given the debacle with the Dan Gilbert Bedrock photo “of a whites only Detroit.”
“The insensitivity of Dan Gilbert was bad enough; now Mayor Duggan’s campaign has fallen into the same racist trap dehumanizing our children even as we lament the 50th anniversary of The Detroit Rebellion of 1967,” said Williams, noting that, in his opinion, times in Detroit are worse now than they were 50 years ago.
Detroit Mayor’s Office Chief of Staff Alexis Wiley said the photo was taken in front of the children’s home and not at the mayor’s request, adding that what’s disgusting is NAN targeting these young kids. (The kids’ mother, who works for city, took the photo and it was used with her permission).
Riddle said the group takes no issue with the children, only with the way “they’re being used” by the Duggan campaign.
While Riddle conceded that Duggan may not have knowingly compared the kids to lawn jockeys, he called the post “utterly a ridiculous manifestation of white political arrogance.”
Comments on the photo, which accompanies the message, ‘Did you get your Duggan for Detroit lawn sign yet? Sign up and we’ll deliver a sign to your home or business free,’ are largely positive, with more than 1,000 “likes” and about 100 “loves” as of Tuesday morning.
On Thomas’ Facebook page, many commenters remarked that all they see is a couple of cute kids.
“It’s misdirected offense,” M.j. Gray said. “School closings are far more racist but these people never notice that.”
Robert Pouget commented, “Clearly, whoever thought such a thing are themselves racist. We all know there are people who are judging Duggan for the color of his skin. It’s sad to see people use race today after so many people have tried so hard to fight racism.”
Benjamin L. Edwards Jr. added, “WHAT? Good Lawd…find another angle.”
NAN, which was founded by Rev. Al Sharpton in 1991, has sent an email to Duggan demanding removal of the post.