Profanity-laced voicemail about how parents park at Harper Woods middle school traced to councilman
HARPER WOODS, Mich. (FOX 2) - Police are investigating after a profanity-laced voicemail was left with the Harper Woods School District in April.
"I promise you that the neighbors across the street from your middle school are about done with the (expletive) parking on the opposite side of the no parking sign," the caller said. "You need to understand that your people are not exempt from this sign, and it’s posted everywhere. You need to get your (expletive) together and get the (expletive) out of my Harper Woods."
Superintendent Steve McGhee says the caller was upset with how parents parked at the middle school for drop-offs and pickups. About 93% of Harper Woods students are black. McGhee believes the voicemail and particularly the comments "your people" and "get the (expletive) out of my Harper Woods" are racist.
"I was just rather upset from the tone of the voicemail and the explicit language that was used," he said. "I heard it in the veracity of the person’s voice. I’m 56 years old, I’ve been in America 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 city councilman, and it’s in that voicemail, and I’m sure since it’s been FOIA’ed you’re going to get it, but he stated that it wasn’t him, but it was his son," he said.
McGhee filed a complaint with police. After that, Mayor Valerie Kindle called for a sit down with him, his school board members, the councilman, and other council members. He said the city offered a weak apology.
"It was not an authentic apology, but even so I’m bound as a superintendent to make sure I’m protecting not only our children and our staff but also myself," 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 staffers and administrators in light of the mass shooting in Buffalo, New York and the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
"I know that they have beefed up additional security at all of the Harper Woods schools because of this phone call and the threats that’s going on nationally," Smith said. "When you mention anything about ‘my Harper Woods, your people,’ and started to use explicit language of how you and your neighbors are fed up, I think that’s a threat that must be taken serious."
The chief of police said it is too early in the investigation to say if a crime was committed. The councilman and mayor declined to comment.