Local civil rights leaders today called for Oakland County Prosecutor L. Brooks Patterson to apologize for divisive, incendiary comments he made about Detroit and Native Americans in the New Yorker magazine.
“We don’t want you just to apologize with your lips,” said Rev. Charles Williams II, leader of the Detroit chapter of the National Action Network. “We are calling for you to apologize with your actions.”
That means, Williams told reporters, “coming to the hood – the heartbeat of the city of Detroit, and let’s gather with a real conversation about how we can heal the racial divide that has permeated throughout the southeast Michigan.”
Williams also challenged local business and political leaders to stand against Patterson’s comments, which caused outrage among many in the region.
In an interview for the latest edition of the New Yorker, Patterson said there are very few reasons to visit Detroit, where he warned, “You do not, do not, under any circumstances, stop at a gas station! That’s just a call for a carjacking.”
Patterson went on to say: “I can’t imagine finding something in Detroit that we don’t have in spades here. Except for live sports. We don’t have baseball, football. For that, fine—get in and get out. But park right next to the venue—spend the extra twenty or thirty bucks. And, before you go to Detroit, you get your gas out here.”
He added: “I made a prediction a long time ago, and it’s come to pass. I said, ‘What we’re going to do is turn Detroit into an Indian reservation, where we herd all the Indians into the city, build a fence around it, and then throw in the blankets and corn.’ ”
Before boarding a yacht on Lake St. Clair, Patterson told the reporter: “Anytime I talk about Detroit, it will not be positive. Therefore, I’m called a Detroit basher. The truth hurts, you know? Tough shit.”
Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.