A KKK flag in Grosse Pointe Park, Detroit expands vaccine eligibility again, state reverses murder conviction

When Jedonna Dinges of Grosse Pointe Park installed a security camera on the side of her home, it was to catch any would-be criminals snooping on the side of her house.

After all, she had discovered a gasoline tank completely full in her dumpster a few weeks before. 

Instead, when she looked through her window one day, she found a flag with the Ku Klux Klan logo emblazoned on it staring straight back at her. 

"I said, I know there's not a klan sign in the window next door," Dinges said. "And I opened the curtains and I looked and sure enough, there was a klan sign in the window next door."

She put out calls to state and federal authorities looking for help. The flag hadn't been flown outside the person's home. It wasn't draped in the front window for all to see. It had been put up in the window that only Dinges could see. It had been put up for her.

Dinges also put the picture on Facebook, which got a lot of reactions from friends and family. After local police caught wind of the situation, they asked the neighbor to please take down the flag. 

"Detectives who came out from the Grosse Pointe Park Police Department told me, that the reason the neighbors put the klan sign up was because I put a camera on my windowsill to record what was happening along the side of my house to protect myself," she said.

Dinges said the neighbors told police the two had never had any problems. They made it clear there were no underlying tensions that prompted the flag, telling police they were "non-confrontational people."

"I don't know how you get anymore confrontational than a klan sign."

Whether it was the reaction of a paranoid neighbor or a joke, there's no ambiguity about the symbol's meaning. Birthed in the wake of the Civil War, the KKK was organized by former Confederate soldiers who terrorized newly-freed African Americans. Its membership has ebbed and waned over the years, but the racism that inspired the movement has remained the same.

Grosse Pointe Park's elected officials condemned the flag's hanging. Mayor Robert Denner said the behavior wasn't welcome in the city. Councilwoman Lauri Read said people were shocked. Councilman Vikas Relan said people who are complicit in the behavior need to be denounced. 

As frustrating as the incident was, Dinges said the support she's receiving from other residents has been overwhelming.

"The number of people that have reached out to me, I'm overcome with emotion at the love and support that I've received from strangers in my community," she said.

Detroit expands vaccine eligibility again

If you are a resident of Detroit who is 60 years or older and has a chronic medical condition that makes you more vulnerable to the coronavirus, you can now schedule a vaccine.

On Wednesday, the city expanded eligibility requirements to anyone with comorbidities like cancer, hypertension, HIV, Alzheimers, Dementia, or heart conditions. Mayor Mike Duggan on Wednesday announced the expansion, along with a personal request he made to President Joe Biden to increase the city's vaccine availability from 15,000 to 25,000.

"By April, we could have everybody in the city who wants to be vaccinated and is high risk of dying from Covid - we have a very real chance," said Duggan. 

As a reminder, before getting the poke, residents need to make an appointment at (313) 230-0505 before coming to the TCF Center. 

Innocence Project helps free man convicted of killing 2 kids

Ken Nixon was 18 years old and a tow truck driver back in 2005. Now, at age 34, he'll be getting out of prison after serving 15 years for a crime he didn't commit.

It was a firebombing in Highland Park so many years ago that killed two children after a molotov cocktail was thrown through the window of a house. Nixon, who lived nearby was accused of killing 10-year-old Raylord McCulley and his sister, 1-year-old Tamyah Vaughn after police discovered gasoline on his clothes.

Nixon argued the gas was due to his job. Investigators also used a 13-year-old eye-witness and struck a deal with a jailhouse informant. Even with alibis in Nixon's favor, a jury convicted him and he was sentenced to life without parole.

A member of the Cooley Law Innocence Project said the testimony had been flawed and inconsistent. Working with Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, they secured Nixon's freedom. He will also be entitled to upwards of $750,000 to get "a headstart on repairing the damage that happened."

Michigan restaurants propose tying capacity to test positivty

Michigan restaurants on Wednesday proposed tying indoor capacity limits to the percentage of COVID-19 tests that come back positive, contending that clear guideposts would help the hospitality industry navigate the pandemic.

Bars and restaurants, which reopened for indoor dining and drinking on Feb 1. after a 2 1/2-month ban, have a 10 p.m. curfew and are limited to 25% occupancy, up to a maximum of 100 patrons, through March 29 under a state health order supported by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. She has opposed linking coronavirus metrics to the automatic loosening or tightening of restrictions.

The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association suggested food service and event space guidelines for restaurants, hotels and banquet halls, and urged that hospitality workers be included in the ongoing 1B phase of vaccinations.

If the state's seven-day average positivity rate -- now 3.9% and on the decline over the past five weeks -- fell below 3%, there would be "no limitations." If the rate was between 3% and 7%, restaurants could operate at 50% indoor capacity without a curfew. Indoor events would be capped at 250 people.

- The Associated Press contributed to this report

Project Child Safe hands out free gun locks

A Detroit Police Department group spent Wednesday giving out free gun locks to firearm owners in hopes of mitigating the string of accidental shootings that swept across the city earlier this year.

Project Child Safe partnered with Detroit police by offering a thousand free gun locks to Detroiters. The locks can be picked up at precincts no questions asked.

"You must secure your firearm, to protect your family and that's why you have it in the first place, is to protect your family," said Martin Jones, who is on the Board of Police Commissioners.  

Since October, three shootings involving children accidentally discharging firearms they discover in their homes have occurred. That includes two in January when a 5-year-old was killed when an 18-month-old started playing with his dad's gun.

What we're watching

  1. For the third day in a row, schools are closing their doors due to inclement weather on Thursday. Check to see if yours is on the list here.
  2. Don't be surprised to find gasoline prices rapidly climbing over the next several days after oil production shrunk due to freezing temperatures in Texas. Winter storms knocked out about a dozen refineries in the state. 
  3. President Joe Biden's trip to Michigan was rescheduled for Friday after inclement weather delayed travel today. He plans to visit the Pfizer manufacturing plant and meet workers producing the COVID-19 vaccine
  4. A Michigan health plan is partnering with ReLeaf Michigan to schedule tree-planting events around the state. The group is now accepting applications to go plant on public property, along streets, or on land accessible to the public.
  5. The third visit to Mars in just week is about to unfold when NASA's Perseverance lands on the red planet Thursday. Here's how to watch.

Live on FOX 2

Daily Forecast

Some afternoon flurries will leave about 2 inches of snow on the ground before closing out the week. Residents beware, next week's warmup will come fast and likely melt most of the snow that got dumped on Detroit a few days ago.

More than 4,500 cold-stunned sea turtles rescued from frigid Texas waters

Volunteers in Texas have rescued about 4,500 cold-stunned sea turtles from frigid waters this week. The endangered turtles are among a number of animal species that have been gravely threatened by record-cold temperatures in the state.

Sea turtles can become "cold-stunned" when water temperatures drop to about 50 degrees Fahrenheit or below, experts say. They become comatose as their heart rate drops, losing their ability to swim or even hold their head above water.

"They are literally stunned. Despite their instincts telling them to raise their necks and breathe, they literally can’t — and they drown in the water," said Wendy Knight, the executive director of Sea Turtle Inc., a nonprofit rescue group in South Padre Island, Texas.

Sea turtles are one of the most iconic animals found in the area. It’s also the only location in Texas where nests from all five of the sea turtle species that live in the Gulf of Mexico have been found — and all of these are listed under the Endangered Species Act as "endangered" or "threatened."