City officials, community leaders speak out after alleged racial incident at Krasl Art Fair
BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (WNDU) - “Racist actions” by several out-of-town artists at the Krasl Art Fair have officials there “furious.”
While covering the fair for the Benton Spirit Community Paper, 18-year-old Nicholas Gunn captured video of a confrontation with some artists who did not want pictures taken of their copyrighted works, saying that just before this recording, the artists were calling him the N-word in front of a crowd of people and getting in his face.
Police are continuing to investigate the incident.
Meantime, Gunn and city officials met Tuesday at WVBH Power 105.3 radio station in Benton Harbor.
Gunn hosts a weekly show called “Benton Harbor Team Solutions.”
This week he invited city officials and community leaders to be a part of the conversation.
The show aims to find solutions to problems.
During the show, Gunn shared his story being attacked over the weekend in St. Joseph, Michigan.
“He’s hitting my camera down. He’s calling me all kinds of names. He’s calling me the N word. He’s hitting my camera down and I can’t lift my camera up. He’s pushing me back...this is crazy...A person who was local had said, ‘Hey that’s Nick. That’s Mr. Benton Harbor. He’s photography. He works for the Benton Spirit Community Newspaper’...and I am like, yeah, like thank you,” Gunn said.
After that attack, Krasl Art Center and city officials were invited to talk about the incident on Gunn’s radio show.
“And we are grateful that you have taken the time, yesterday and today, to be willing to have a conversation about how we can use this experience to grow together,” said Julia Gourley, director of Krasl Art Center.
“And more importantly to listen...when I listen to your life experience, and your life experience Nick, I learn things from your stories. I think one of the things as a community that we need to do is listen to each other more,” said St. Joseph Mayor Laura Goos.
“When we met yesterday at the Krasl, I felt like it was a moment that helped us, because we got to express ourselves,” said Princella Tobias, the leader of Benton Harbor Team Solutions.
“I do feel like our community, our larger community of the twin cities, have taken steps forward, but an incident like this, sends us backwards on our heels, if you will,” Goos said.
“So often we don’t talk about issues regarding coming together. I want everybody to know that in the City of Benton Harbor and the City of Saint Joe, we are a progressing community and we are all progressive, we want to come together as much as possible,” said Gunn.
When Gunn is not hosting his radio show, he is busy doing a lot of other good things in the community
“He loves St. Joe. He loves Berrien Springs. He’s St. Joe Township,” Tobias said. “Yeah, you know who I am talking about. He’s St. Joe Township Fire Cadet. He’s the one who started the program to pray after school with young people. Over a hundred strong. He’s the one that is now helping the City of Benton Harbor with their master plan.”
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