Hamtramck Councilman Blames City’s Trash Problem On Messy Immigrants

HAMTRAMCK (WWJ) – A Hamtramck city council member is blaming what he says is an ongoing trash problem on the community’s rich cultural diversity.

Councilman Ian Perrotta says garbage is piling up in alleyways between homes in the Detroit enclave; and, in some cases, refuse is simply being tossed out into the streets.

“There is an issue with trash in Hamtramck,” Perrotta told WWJ’s Lauren Barthold in an interview. “I think some of it comes from the fact that some of our immigrant population comes from areas where regular trash collection and sanitation is not available, or not a priority.”

First settled by German farmers, Hamtramck became predominantly Polish in the early 1900s. The city of around 22,000 is now home to a majority Muslim population.

“The previous iterations of the immigrant population were more Europeans who maybe came from places that had similar methods of sanitation,” Perrotta said. “The current wave of immigrants is primarily from Yemen and Bangladesh.”

He said city officials are taking steps to deal with the issue.

“We are installing several dozen trash cans in the main business district in the hopes that it will mitigate some of the trash that is just casually tossed. There are also bins,” he said. “There’s program that’s being worked on also to educate residents and try and give them a heads up on how to be respectful and curious citizens.”

Perrotta said the trash problem was brought to his attention when it came up at a youth town hall meeting.

Calls and emails for comment from other council members — several of whom are Muslim — and the city’s mayor have not been returned.

Comments

One Comment

  1. Ian Perrotta says:

    It has been nearly 72 hours since I first addressed this story by commenting on it yet my comment has not shown up. This is an incredibly egregious and shameful act by WWJ to conceal the fact that the story was incompletely and incorrectly reported.

  2. Ian Perrotta says:

    This is my response to the article when it was shared on Facebook:
    First, let me apologize to any residents who feel they were mischaracterized. The fact is you were mischaracterized, as was I. The statements I gave to the reporter were highly edited and taken out of context and do not reflect the true intention of what I said.
    On July 24 I received an email from a reporter at WWJ. It read:
    “Hi Andrea/Ian:
    My name is Lauren – Reporter with WWJ Newsradio 950.
    I’ve been seeing some chatter and pictures on social media about a trash problem in Hamtramck. According to one woman, the two of you are “on their side” in combatting the issue. Would you be available for a brief, pre-recorded phone interview with me on that? I’m curious to know how the problem got so bad and what’s being done to fix it.
    Thanks so much in advance!
    Lauren Barthold
    248.945.9950 newsroom”
    At first I did not want to respond to this message as I believed it would give credence to the issue. However, I decided to speak up because of the coded language I saw in the email. According to one woman, I was “on their side.” When the two white councilmembers are the only ones to receive an email about a trash problem and we are characterized as being on a “side” it is clear that there is already an angle to the story and the reporter was looking for quotes to fill it out. I say this because I was a reporter and I regularly had articles written before speaking with those who were quoted, and I usually was able to elicit the quote I wanted to get.
    Knowing that there was already an angle and it appeared the story would disparage a large segment of Hamtramck’s residents, I decided to respond and try to inject another angle to the story. To that end, I explained that yes, Hamtramck does appear to have a bit of a trash problem, but I don’t believe it is as bad as it was being characterized.
    I offered a bit of historical context. I stated that Hamtramck was once known as America’s cleanest city, to the point where old Polish ladies would be outside bleaching the sidewalk. This was many years ago and it is no longer the case, but I pointed out that many people who were here during that time remember those days, and as a result they may have a perception that Hamtramck is much dirtier than it actually is due to the lense from which they view the city.
    From there we spoke at length about a number of issues. Our conversation probably lasted 15-20 minutes, maybe even 30 minutes. My phone updated and I no longer have that record, but suffice it to say that the conversation was very long and detailed. I took pains to qualify my statements and point out that what I was saying was not to disparage any group in any way, and was in fact the same sentiments that were held by many of Hamtramck’s youth, several of whom – including Bengalis and Yemenis – presented at a Youth Town Hall meeting about issues that they believed impacted the city.

  3. Ian Perrotta says:

    Unfortunately I am unable to comment my entire post, it can be read here:

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