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Saline holds a second, highly emotional meeting about racism

Tracy Samilton
Michigan Radio

The city of Saline held a second meeting on Sunday about recent racist incidents - but this time, no one showed up to make racist remarks.

That doesn't mean the meeting was easy. Many people who came were deeply distressed about what has happened, and shared painful experiences of their own involving racism.

In late January, two athletes on Saline High School's football team invited black teammates onto a Snapchat group - and introduced them using the "n" word. Other racist remarks followed.

Credit Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
Dru Campbell, a junior at Saline High School, says he's the target of racist remarks on an almost daily basis, and is "done" laughing them off

The second racist incident happened at the first community meeting to discuss the Snapchat incident. 

In a video that's gone viral, a man interrupted an Hispanic businessman, who was telling a story about racism his children experienced in Saline.  "Then why didn't you stay in Mexico?" he asked, to gasps and angry outbursts from others at the meeting.

On Sunday, the crowd reflected Saline's lack of diversity. Most of those who attended were white, as are most of the people who reside in the city.

Jim Tieman says his grandson was one of the black football players who was victimized by the Snapchat incident. 

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Michigan Radio
Aramide Pinhiero Boatswain has children in Saline Public Schools. She says "it hurts," when people say they had no idea how much racism there is in the city and the school system.

"Tell your kids, stand up for each other," said Tieman, his voice breaking.  "No child here - no child deserves to go to school and have to worry about being attacked for the color of their skin or sexual orientation or whatever. Encourage them to stand next to that kid, and tell them, you're not alone, I'm not going to accept it."

Channon Washington says her family moved to Saline because of its reputation for good schools - and despite its reputation for racism.  

"People tried to talk me out of coming here, for my safety, my kids safety," said Washington. "That has to change."
Cynthia Weber said she was not shocked by what happened. She says her bi-racial children are frequently subjected to racist comments by fellow students.

Weber says she's complained to Saline Public School administrators, but nothing changed.

"I felt like it was never addressed, and maybe now it's finally going to be addressed," Weber said.

Several people at the meeting said the city and the school system need to take action - not just call meetings to let people vent their feelings.

City and county leaders at the meeting said they intend to continue the dialogue about what needs to change in Saline.

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