Flint-Area Lawmakers Send Letter to Florida Legislature

Legislators concerned about mistreatment of Flint students
Monday, April 27, 2015

LANSING – State Representatives Sheldon Neeley (D-Flint) and Phil Phelps (D-Flushing) and state Senator Jim Ananich (D-Flint) sent a joint letter to the State of Florida Legislature today urging action against an Econo Lodge and Wendy’s in Live Oak, Florida. During a recent trip to visit colleges, Flint-area high school students were the victims of racist comments and were refused service at a fast food restaurant.

“These young men and women had the opportunityto reach beyond Genesee County to find educational choices to help shape their future, but instead they received a harsh lesson in racism,” Neeley said. “The words and lack of class directed at them should not stand without consequences, so my colleagues and I urge the Florida Legislature to take action.”

When their bus broke down on the way back to Michigan, the students had to stay at an Econo Lodge in Live Oak. While they were able to get lodging, they were harassed throughout their stay, with hotel employees using racial epithets against the Flint group. A smaller group of students went to a local Wendy’s, only seeking a meal, and were denied service.

“It is imperative that an open dialogue is created and the situation is appropriately addressed,” Phelps said. “These incidents are unacceptable and should never occur, in Michigan, Florida or anywhere in our country. It’s a hope that each day we, as a society, can become more tolerant.”

“We fought against racism for more than a century, and while some claim we live in a post-racial society, this experience for these young people has proven otherwise,” Neeley said. “It’s time to make sure they do understand that intolerant actions will not stand.”