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October 22, 1998 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-10-22

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The Michigan Daily - Thursday, October 22, 1998 - 5A

DETROIT (AP) -A little boy riding
his bicycle. A woman sleeping in her
home. A couple coming home from a
church gathering.
None expected to be the object of a
hate crime. But all became witnesses to
vandalism in the form of racist mes-
sages - aimed at them.
On Tuesday in Pontiac, Maria Gay's
son Matthew told police that when he
* riding his bike, a van pulled up and
a man wearing "a white hat with a point
on it" rolled a bowling ball covered in
racist graffiti toward him, The Oakland
Press reported. The graffiti included
"KKK," she said.
Over the weekend, a young, black
Pontiac couple came home to find
racial slurs and Nazi swastikas scrawled
in bright blue spray paint on their walls
furniture. Nearly every room in
ir home was vandalized, The
Oakland Press said.
"The clear message is people
believe they can get away with it,"
said Donald Cohen, Michigan direc-
tor of the Anti-Defamation League,
yesterday. "It's important that strong
hate crime legislation be enacted
and enforced."
Cohen said he thinks racial van-
dalism has increased recently in the
tro Detroit area. Earlier this
nth, a Sterling Heights woman
discovered racist graffiti on her
garage, and two months ago, crosses
were burned in Warren and
Roseville and racist flyers were dis-
tributed in St. Clair Shores.
In June, law enforcement and civil
rights officials from across
Michigan began coordinating efforts
to fight hate crimes. More than 70
l ups are involved with the
ichigan Alliance Against hate
Members of the Arkansas-based
Knights of the Klux Klan, who plan to
hold a rally Saturday in St. Joseph in
western lower Michigan, said they don't
condone hate crimes.
"You have to be Christian to be a
member (of the Klan) ... you have to be
nonviolent," said Flavis Pierce, national
bership coordinator of the
Wansas group.
Pierce blames television portrayals of
the KKK and Internet sites that claim to
be Klan-affiliated for racially motivated

Candidate wants apology
for stripper accusations

LANSING (AP) - A state Senate candidate in Dearborn
says her opponent's supporters have circulated fliers implying
she once worked as a stripper, and she wants an apology.
Republican Rhonda Runco's opponent, state Sen. George
Hart (D-Dearborn) said he had nothing to do with the fliers
and doesn't condone personal attacks in political cam-
Hart said the matter boiled down to a personal vendetta
between Runco and a local businessperson that started a year
ago when Runco was running for the city council.
Meanwhile, Hart's chief of staff and campaign manager,
David Wygonik, resigned yesterday after Runco supporters
released a transcript of a taped private conversation in which
Wygonik made derogatory comments about Runco, includ-
ing implying she was a dancer at a strip club.
Wygonik, who worked for Hart nine years and also was
taped making negative comments about his boss, said he did
not know he was being taped by former Hart supporter Vince
Stadnik. Hart said Wygonik resigned to make sure people
knew his personal conduct was not part of the campaign.
Runco, the wife of Dearborn District Judge William
Runco and mother of three, said Wygonik's taped com-
ments made her believe he was the one who began cir-
culating rumors around Dearborn last year that she was
a stripper.
"I have never been a stripper, a dancer or any of these
things," Runco said. "It was like porch politics. By the time it
got to the end of the street, it's horrendous. It's very opposite

to my message, which is families first."
In addition, Runco says she earlier this week discovered
Zouher Abdel-Hak placing fliers on cars implying she was an
exotic dancer. Abdel-Hak is a Dearborn resident and busi-
nessperson who has feuded with Runco since she and his
brother fought last year over a city council seat. Both lost.
Runco filed a complaint with Dearborn Police, charging
harassment. Abdel-Hak was questioned but not arrested.
Abdel-Hak said he put the flier together on his own with-
out Hart's knowledge or consent. He said he got the idea
when he saw Runco's billboard behind a sign advertising the
Wild Mustang strip club.
He took a picture, added the words, "Does this look famil-
iar" and made a flier attacking Runco.
But Abdel-Hak said he never accused her of anything, say-
ing he suspects but doesn't know for certain that she ever
worked as a stripper. He did acknowledge their feud has
included costly litigation. "This woman cost me $130,000 in
damages to my business. She trashed me, my family and
threatened my health," he said. Now, she's running for state
Senate based on 'families first.'
Several Republican women supported Runco yesterday,
saying the innuendos surrounding her character are some-
thing men running for office do not face.
"With these kinds of intimidating and underhanded tactics,,
is it any wonder that only 10 women in history have been -
elected to serve in the Michigan Senate," said state Sen.
Joanne Emmons (R-Big Rapids).

Maria Gay holds a bowling ball with racist graffiti that her son, Matthew, said was
rolled at him from a van by a man wearing "a white hat with a point on it."

violent activity.
"Truth of the matter is, if you're in
the know on what's what in this move-
ment, you'll know these aren't really
Klan groups,"he said.
"Young white people feel threat-
ened in their schools and they see
this stuff on TV," Pierce said. "And
they think this is how they're sup-
posed to act.
"The first time (new members) come
swaggering up ... trying to act tough,
using racial slurs - we immediately
tell them
you've been , ' / o
watching too tpor
much Jerry st o-a
Springer." ston
Cohen said -lto
groups such legi
as the Klan and enforc
need to take
care that peo-
ple don't use Michigan director of A
their state-
ments as a
justification for violence.
"Some people may receive their mes-
sage as a message of hate. These people
have a responsibility to ensure that peo-
ple don't get the message that this is an
incitement for violence," Cohen said.

Cohen also said the Internet was
partly to blame for an increase in
racist activity because it offers easy
access to sites condoning racial vio-
Pontiac attorney Elbert Hatchett
said the problem is that "hate mon-
gering groups" have become so
attached to the right to speak out
that they think they also have the
right to act out.
Hatchett said he can't explain why
the incidents like the ones in Pontiac

State agrees to lease former
GM Detroit headquarters

Cant that
be enacted
ed "
- Donald Cohen
Anti-Defamation League

happen in the
1990s. But
he says peo-
ple need to
c o m in i t
the m selves
to stopping
"There has
to be a pas-
sionate com-
mitment by
all people of

DETROIT (AP) - The state
announced yesterday it will help ensure
the future of a downtown landmark.
Calling it a partnership between the
city, state and General Motors Corp.,
Gov. John Engler said the state has
reached an agreement in principle to
lease a major portion of the old GM
"A lot of history has been made in this
building," Engler said. "It is a landmark."
The agreement has not yet been
signed. Engler said they still have some
things to work out, but he's confident a
deal can be made. He said he thinks the
location will serve as a customer friend-
ly government center.
"We believe this move is very good
for the city of Detroit,' he said. "It's a
win for the state of Michigan."
One of Detroit's architectural stand-
outs, the GM building was designed by
architect Albert Kahn and completed in
1922. Arched entrances and vaulted
ceilings combine with elaborate orna-
mentation to make it one of the city's

best-known buildings.
The state .would move at least 2,500
workers from the State Plaza and the
Labor Building in the latter half of
2000, said Engler spokesperson John
Truscott. He said he wasn't sure yet
what would happen to the Labor
Building or the State Plaza, but said the
state would not act as a leasing agent.
GM will donate the 15-story building
to three private developers who are
expected to make the $80 million con-
version. TrizecHahn Office Properties
will lead the development team, which
also includes John James, of the OJ
Group, a private, minority-owned firm
in Detroit, and developer Hiram
Jackson. TrizecHahn also manages the
nearby Fisher Building and New Center
One shopping center.
The state will lease 960,000 square
feet of the building's I million square
feet for 20 years.
One reason GM moved its headquar-
ters to the Renaissance Center on the
Detroit riverfront was the cost of mod-

ernizing the 80-year-old building.
The idea to move state employees
into the GM building has been tossed
around for months. In March, Engler
said, "If the price is right, it might
Truscott said there are just a few
details to work out on the deal, such as
lease terms. He said the governor would-
n't have made an announcement if he
wasn't sure the deal would go through.
GM chair Jack Smith presented
Engler with a framed lithograph of the
building, and said he is happy the state
wants to take over the building.
"It will help ensure this proud build-
ing ... will have a strong and secure
future, " Smith said, though it's not clear
what will happen to the trademark red
"General Motors" sign atop the building.
GM bought the RenCen two years
ago, but the automaker still occupies a
portion of its old headquarters building.
The automaker has said it will take sev-
eral more years to consolidate all of its
headquarters staff in the'RenCen.

good will to condemn this ... activi-
ty," Hatchett said.
"We need someone to fill the void
that Martin Luther King Jr. has left.
He was the great moral conscience
of this country."




Come meet C. Robert Black, Vice President
October 28, 1998
4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
On-campus interviews will be held November 18, 1998.
Please check with Graduate Career Services for presentation and
interview times and locations.
Top executives from Texaco are traveling the country talking to
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Find out how we can give energy to your career. Experience Texaco
on your campus. If you are unable to



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