Mom gets creative taking on son's bullies • Rebecca Kiessling testifies in Congress • Mo Pop hiatus

An entire Facebook page was created just to make fun of, and bully a 21-year-old Metro Detroit young man with autism.

His family had to get creative to have the page taken down after the social media giant provided zero help.

"It’s very heartbreaking to watch them and to get made fun of, and as a family member it just breaks your heart to see it," said Jill Vandenabeele.

Vandenabeele’s 21-year-old nephew Gabe Franz was mocked on social media for nearly two months.

Gabe Franz has autism, is hearing impaired, and has other cognitive disabilities. It was that and a deep love of trains that made him the butt of jokes online.

"What they do is they mock these people," Jill said. "They'll literally befriend them on their Facebook page, and what they were doing was taking his posts, putting it in this group (page) and making fun of him.

"And obviously Gabe was very hurt, and he didn't understand why."

Jill soon learned there were two other similar pages mocking train enthusiasts with special needs. She, along with other friends and family members, reported the pages in hopes of getting Facebook to shut them down.

"It kept coming back, ‘It doesn’t break community standards,’" Jill said. "But one of their standards is harassment. And this is harassing people with special needs. Why aren’t they taking care of it."

It wasn’t until Jill reached out to the administrators of the group page mocking Gabe that she made headway.

"Two admins jumped off on Gabe’s page, and I was able to create an alias and jump on as admin and delete the page," she said. "I had to go through and start deleting every post, I deleted every member and blocked every member."

Jill shut down that page last Saturday and helped shut down a second mocking another young man with special needs on Thursday. The third page is still up and running.

Gabe, who’s still bouncing back from the tauntings, thanked his aunt and others for their efforts in a Facebook post this week.

Jill, who works with St. Clair County Community Mental Health says all of it should serve as another reminder that cyber-bullying is real and can have a devastating impact on those on the receiving end.

"The biggest message is parents watch what your kids are doing out there," she said. "My kids will be the first to tell you, that I will grab their phones at any given moment and start searching their contacts, or their social media."

Jill said a lot of the administrators on those Facebook pages were kids, and they were spooked once she reached out to them and threatened to tell their parents about what they were doing.

FOX 2 contacted Facebook for comment but did not hear back.

Read the full story here.

Mom who lost sons to fentanyl testifies in Congress

The mother who lost two sons after they ingested fentanyl in 2020 testified in front of Congress Tuesday. Rebecca Kiessling implored lawmakers to do a better job of boosting security at the southern border, where the drugs that killed her sons likely came through.

"I don't use the term overdose, because this was not an overdose - this was murder," she said. "My children got fake Percocets." Kiessling was a mother to Caleb, 20, and Kyler, 18, who were found dead in an Auburn Hills hotel room on July 29. 

Testifying in front of the subcommittee of Homeland Security on border security, Kiessling's experience is a tragic one that's familiar among many other parents. 

"I didn't know that people were dying - I didn't know that my boys were taking anything that could kill them - they didn't think that they were either," she said. "This is a war - act like it - do something."

Mo Pop Festival put on pause

Detroit's summer music festival that takes place at the West Riverfront Park and Hart Plaza is taking a hiatus. Mo Pop, which has been going on for 10 years, said it wouldn't be scheduled this year. The company behind it says a return from the pandemic caused "unexpected challenges."

The future of the festival, as well as the location it's put on, will be evaluated by its producers. In the meantime, Mo Pop plans to now highlight artists the fest brought to Michigan, along with other similar artists when they come to Metro Detroit under the new moniker Mo Pop Presents.

"Over the past decade, Mo Pop has gone through an evolution of being a one-day event in the suburbs to grounding our roots in Downtown Detroit and expanding as an annual two-day outdoor festival," read a statement.

"We've had the pleasure of welcoming many artists and creatives to mo pop that have gone on to become global superstars. Being able to experience those moments in real time, we'll cherish forever."

Read more here.

Republicans throw support behind gun package

Among the biggest surprises behind the Democrat's latest legislative push for gun safety reform is the support coming from U.S. Reps. Fred Upton and Dave Trott, who both served in Congress.

Both former lawmakers issued a joint statement in support of a package of bills that would codify universal background checks, red flag laws, and safe storage rules. 

"As strong supporters of the Second Amendment and proud Republicans, we feel it is our duty to come out in support of this legislation," the statement reads. "Students, educators, and parents in Michigan have suffered through multiple mass shootings in the past fifteen months, and Michiganders deserve action."

Calling it "common sense gun safety reform" the lawmakers said the bills would reduce access to illegal guns while helping families.

General Motors laying off 500 white collar jobs

General Motors plans to cut 500 executive level and salaried jobs as it commits to reducing "structural costs" within the automaker, despite its CEO saying the company was not planning layoffs in January. 

Mary Barra said in January that there were no plans to cut positions. That has since changed as the company continues pouring billions of dollars into electric vehicle and battery projects. The industry-wide pivot is having big effects on Detroit's other two automakers as well.

The job cuts will be happening across the company, which includes its employees in both the U.S. and abroad. GM is setting the stage to roll out its new electric Chevrolet Silverado, as well as mid-sized SUVs the Blazer and Equinox. 

Before the layoffs were announced, Barra had said the company was trying to reduce the complexity of its products as it trimmed its hiring rate. It's unclear when the layoffs would come.

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Daily Forecast

Today's forecast comes with rain in the morning and warm temperatures in the afternoon. The real action returns Friday with an unknown amount of snow and freezing rain that could arrive.

What else we're watching

  1. There are other proponents of the gun safety laws that have been introduced in the senate besides former lawmakers. Faith leaders including Episcopal Bishop Bonnie Perry will hold a rally alongside a survivor of the MSU shooting that will speak at a press conference in Lansing Wednesday.
  2. Abortion is legal in Michigan. But the 1931-era law that ban the practice remains on the books. The bills repealing the ban will get committee hearings today as well. Find more on the legislative efforts here.
  3. Cities and counties that have pot businesses will get just shy of $60 million. The sales tax on marijuana goes to three sources: roads, schools, and local governments. The latest report shows how much business is booming in the state.
  4. An abandoned building off of the westbound I-94 service drive era Beaubien caught fire over night. There were no injuries but the flames climbed high into the sky and could be seen from the highway.
  5. It also appears the $180 rebate checks that Democrats wanted to send to residents won't happen. Senate Democrats were unable to convince enough Republicans to vote in favor of the tax package. WIthout the checks, a tax cut may instead be triggered. 

‘I didn’t realize’: Woman mistakenly eats heart-shaped chip that could have won her 100K

A woman from England says she has eaten a heart-shaped chip that could have won her more than $100,000. Dawn Sagar, from Oswestry in Shropshire, told FOX Television Stations that she pulled the snack from a bag of Walkers but did not know the chip, known as a crisp across the pond, could be valuable.

"At first I didn't realize that crisp would be worth money as I hadn't heard about the competition," Sagar shared. "I sent to my friends as I found it the day after Valentine's Day and thought it looked cute."

Unaware of the contest, Sagar ate the chip after taking the photo to send to her friends. 

Read the full story here.