|Photo Credit - Independent Underground News & Talk|
A 8 x 11 sign with the late Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King, Jr.
likeness was placed by unknown person(s) on signage denoting
sale of the Water Street Property land, near Downtown Ypsilanti
A residential land development proposal by the Indiana based Herman & Kittle Properties for a 90 Unit affordable housing complex represents one of the first viable solutions to add tax revenue back into the City of Ypsilanti in years.
"The Water Street Flats proposal puts 90 units of market-rate rental housing at the far southern end of the Water Street property. This is the first purchase agreement accepted by the city for residential housing in almost 15 years. If the MSHDA funding is approved," said Mayor Paul Schreiber.
"Water Street Flats will provide attractive riverfront housing for young professionals as well as some lower income families. Full taxes will be paid and water and sewer infrastructure will be installed to further stimulate development. This project is good for Water Street, downtown, and Ypsilanti."
The copied photographs of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were located on outdoor signage of real estate brokerage firm C.B. Richard Ellis and a nearby map of the Water Street Property.
Wear and tear of the two pictures suggested MLK's likeness appeared on the signs for months, without little fanfare near the heavily traveled Michigan Avenue Thoroughfare near Downtown Ypsilanti.
Tyrone Bridges, a former member of Ypsilanti's Ethnic Community Relations Board and city resident, drove pass the property located less than 200 feet from City Hall offices. Bridges was disturbed by the display.
"Dr. Martin Luther King’s picture on the City of Ypsilanti’s owned properties for sale sign is disrespectful towards the true meaning of the civil rights movement," said Bridges. "No civil rights leader’s picture should never be on any city owned property for sale sign."
Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber and City Councilman Ricky Jefferson according to statements, were unaware when the pictures showing Dr. King likeness was placed on sale signs on the Water Street Property or how long the photos were at the location.
"I am unaware of any signs anywhere in the city with the likeness of the late civil rights leader Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr," said Councilman Jefferson. "(But) I will investigate if this deliberate misuse of his likeness is actually on Water Street."Councilman Jefferson removed the pictures with Dr. King, Jr.'s likeness, March 5.
Jefferson noted the photos were "stapled and glued" onto Water Street's For Sale signage appeared to have been on the signs "for months" upon review of the pictures condition.
Mayor Schreiber had no knowledge King's pictures were placed on the sale signage, by whom or intent behind the action.
"I don’t know who posted the pictures on the For Sale sign on the Water Street property," the Mayor asserted.In January, a teen dance event titled "Freedom 2 Twerk Martin Luther King Day Party" was cancelled by owners of The Social Network Banquet and Event Center in Flint, Michigan after a promotional flyer showed a manipulated photo of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s face pasted onto a body of a man wearing a gold chain and making a "westside" sign with one hand.
Owner of the venue Vic McEwen speaking with local news resource MLive, said he had no idea the party advertising would use a manipulated photo of a fallen civil rights leader. After gaining awareness of the flyer, McEwen immediately cancelled the teen dance party event.
"We have reprimanded this organization as much as we can," said McEwen, who said he was very disturbed to see King's image manipulated, to MLive reporter Blake Thorne.Ypsilanti Resident Tyrone Bridges believes City officials need to take measures to stop any improper usage of Dr. King, Jr. likeness further by passing a Resolution prohibiting incidents of this nature.
"As a former member of the City of Ypsilanti Human Relations Commission I would ask the City Mayor and City Council to pass a Resolution Prohibiting the Usage of any Civil Rights Leader Picture on any City Property for sale sign immediately, Bridges said. "I also would instruct all Ordinance Enforcement Officers to conduct random sign checks for illegal attachments of pictures on all properties within the city limits."Bridges says he soon has plans to launch a quest to become Ypsilanti's first African-American Mayor in over 20 years.
The City of Ypsilanti currently does not host a municipally sponsored celebration honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. City Officials can choose individually to attend MLK Day activities at Eastern Michigan University or other events, Mayor Schreiber said.
"The city of Ypsilanti does have Martin Luther King day as a holiday. Many city council members attend the MLK day activities at Eastern Michigan University and other venues. The city does not have organized events during MLK day," Schreiber stated.As proposals for developing an affordable housing complex on the Water Street Property is deliberated by City officials in the months ahead, Ypsilanti resident Tyrone Bridges believes the correct course of action is for municipality elected leadership to consider ideas expressed by citizens about possible business development of the open land space.
"I would seek more public citizens and businesses input on the type of businesses they would like to city to explore for Water Street Development," Bridges said. "The leaders of the City of Ypsilanti own it to the tax payers to listen and take into consideration their voice of concerns."
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