HARPER WOODS, Mich. (FOX 2) – Police are investigating after a voicemail containing profanity was left at the Harper Woods School District in April.
“I promise you the neighbors across the street from your college are almost done with (expletive) parking across the no parking sign,” the caller said. “You have to understand that your people are not exempt from this sign, and it’s posted everywhere. You have to get your (expletive) together and get the (expletive) out of my Harper Woods.”
Superintendent Steve McGhee says the caller was upset with how the parents parked at the college to drop them off and pick them up. Approximately 93% of Harper Woods students are black. McGhee thinks the voicemail and especially the comments “your people” and “get the (expletive) out of my Harper Woods” are racist.
“I was just kind of upset with the tone of the voicemail and the explicit language that was used,” he said. “I heard it in the truth of the person’s voice. I’m 56, I’ve been in America for a while, and you know when you hear it, you know when you feel it.”
McGhee said the district’s IT department traced the call to a white elected official.
“The name came up as a councilman, and it’s in that voicemail, and I’m sure since it’s been FOIA you’re gonna get it, but he said it wasn’t him , but it was his son,” he said.
McGhee filed a complaint with the police. After that, Mayor Valerie Kindle called to sit down with him, his school board members, the councilman and other council members. He said the city issued a weak apology.
“It wasn’t a genuine apology, but even so, I’m obligated as Superintendent to make sure that I protect not only our children and our staff, but myself as well,” McGhee said.
Willie Smith, a veteran, ex-police officer and former Harper Woods councilman now working with the school district, says the voicemail along with other disturbing phone calls likely from the same person, hit home with staff members and administrators in light of the mass shooting in Buffalo, New York and the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
“I know they have increased security at all of the schools in Harper Woods because of this phone call and the threats that are happening nationwide,” Smith said. “When you mention anything about ‘my Harper Woods, your people’ and start using explicit language about how fed up you and your neighbors are, I think that’s a threat that needs to be taken seriously.”
The police chief said it was too early in the investigation to say if a crime had been committed. The councilman and mayor declined to comment.