Community members feel vehicle ban on island targets African Ame - WNEM TV 5

Community members feel vehicle ban on island targets African Americans

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SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

Irie Sample is upset.

"Everywhere that the African American community gathers it seems like it’s an issue or problem," Sample said.

He said African Americans in Saginaw are being picked on. Sample said many of them gather to relax on Sunday afternoons at Ojibway Island.

City police, along with local leaders, have banned vehicle traffic from the park on Sundays from 4 p.m. till dark. Residents are still allowed on the island, but Sample and others think their cars should be too.

"We've been gathering out here on Sundays for decades now with no problem and all of a sudden it's a problem. It's an issue," Sample said.

A spokesman for the police department said this move is not aimed at any particular group of people.

Detective Sgt. Reggie Williams said there have been 13 calls to 911 from Ojibway Island since June 10, more than half coming on Sunday evenings.

"This is not a discrimination issue. This is a safety issue. We want everyone to be able to enjoy the island. And if anything is being discriminated against it's cars not people," Williams said.

The calls range anywhere from fighting, to reckless driving, to gun waving and traffic blocking the exit. Williams said it's important to keep the island free of traffic during Sunday evenings in case of an emergency.

"If something happens in the back of the island and there is a traffic jam in the front of the island then there's no way for emergency vehicles to get to the back of the island," Williams said.

Sample believes the city should work with all members of the community, instead of taking action to shut some of them out.

"We have a few bad apples, but you don't punish a whole community for three or four people," Sample said.

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