Towing company confronted by New Era Detroit, Trick Trick over alleged predatory practices

New Era Detroit and rapper Trick Trick confronted a towing company Friday over alleged predatory practices.

They are accusing Goch and Sons Towing of illegally towing vehicles after a woman's vehicle was on the verge of being towed while within the 15-minute grace period at Medical Court Apartments near Detroit Receiving Hospital.

"That’s the reason we actually pulled up and confronted them because we caught them spotting red-handed. The sister wasn’t out of her car for more than 10 minutes before the tow truck which was waiting around here got the call and pulled right up immediately," said Isiah "Zeek" Williams, with New Era.

Williams said New Era has been watching towing company for some time now. He took his concerns to the City Council on Tuesday. Goch and Sons has a contract on the line.

The allegations have dogged the towing company for years now, but Goch and Sons say there are signs at the apartment complex warning cars parked there without a permit will be towed.

Goch said it was appalled by the actions of New Era Detroit and claim they brandished guns to threaten and intimidate their employees.

"One thing I don’t play with is firearms. We have never brandished a firearm at anybody. We definitely pulled up on them to have a conversation about the practices that’s been going on, the intimidation," Williams said.

City Council is looking at the company's towing practices.

"We have already held the contract in committee. I do have a memo that I submitted with several questions, and so we're looking into the practices and what we can do is a council to ensure that they are properly towing vehicles and not illegally doing things within the Detroit Medical Center," Council President Mary Sheffield said.

Part of the issue is the parking or some would argue a lack of parking at Detroit Receiving Hospital. A spokesman acknowledged there are times parking can be limited when they have a high volume of patients and visitors, but in addition to their parking deck, there are five other structures on the DMC campus for public parking.

Last year, the city revamped towing rules to curb predatory practices. Some changes included requiring police-authorized towing companies to accept payments with credit cards as well as cash; approval from the Detroit Police Department to remove vehicles from private property, and removal of vehicles from tow trucks if the owner arrives and pays a service fee.

Goch released a statement:

"We would like to respond to the events depicted in a recently released video that is being shared on Instagram by first saying that we are appalled by the actions of a group that claims to support their community. The level of intimidation and violence that was perpetrated upon our employees, who work hard, performing a legal and necessary service, should never have taken place.  It is disgusting that these hard working, black men had to endure being blocked from leaving, having the windows of their vehicle pounded upon, being hurled insult after insult of race trading, being called the n-word a total of 31 times, and, most of all, being threatened by the brandishing of guns, which was cut from the self-released video by this divisive group.

"We are further disappointed by the actions of the Lead Officer of the Detroit Police Department on scene.  While the majority of our interactions with the men and women who serve as officers for DPD are positive, professional and handled in accordance with the law; we do on occasion encounter an officer who choses to act on their personal opinions surrounding towing or their resentment as to the time-consuming role a private property impound takes from the police side.  However, in this incident, the police were called by our employees, who were clearly under an assault and feared for their safety as guns were being shown to them and hate slurs and threats of physical violence were being cast upon them.  While in route to the scene, the Secondary Officer had even made contact with Goch & Sons dispatch to receive further information about what was occurring.  It greatly saddens us to see public servants not uphold their pledge to "serve and protect" in accordance with the law.  It is our hope that this incident can serve as a lesson to all police officers that by not acting to defend the true victims, who were performing a requested, law-abiding service, that they are encouraging further violence and thug-like vigilante tactics.

"We understand that the towing of illegally parked vehicles from the Medical Center Courts will always be a hot topic of debate.  During our time servicing the contract for these apartments, we have often heard the complaint that we tow single mothers, the elderly, and veterans, or purely based on race. The reality is that we tow 100% of the vehicle owners that choose to disrespect the single mothers, the elderly, the veterans, and every other resident or permitted guest of the Medical Center Court Apartments.  If visitors to the Detroit Medical Center Hospital correctly used the free, covered parking for the facility, the Medical Center Courts would not have to contractually obtain a towing company in order to provide accessible and plentiful parking for their residents.  And in the case of a true emergency, it would be our hope that anyone needing a hospital for emergency purposes would drive directly to the DMC Emergency entrance and work with Security as to their vehicle before parking in an apartment complex and crossing 7 lanes of traffic to access care.

"As the Medical Center Court prides itself on providing well-maintained and safe housing to its residents, and given its long-standing history of illegal parking problems caused by its proximity to the hospital, a towing vendor has always been a necessity for the complex.  We find the timing of this group’s assault on our employees and company curious, especially with their own mentioning of an upcoming towing contract.  We find it particularly curious that this group never felt it necessary to impose their barbaric tactics on the previous vendor, which was a black-owned company who adhered to the same procedures and grace periods that Goch & Sons does now.  Whether this attack is personally or politically motivated, we encourage those involved to reexamine their motives and to place their efforts into truly supporting the community."

New Era responded to that statement with a video: