Dozens Expected to Gather for “No Hate in Kalkaska” Demonstration
Dozens of people are expected in downtown Kalkaska Friday evening for a "No Hate in Kalkaska" demonstration.
The event was created just days ago to call for the resignation of Kalkaska Village President Jeff Sieting.
Many in town were upset with Sieting’s sign outside his hotel that reads "For new birth of freedom pray for Trump," believing it was against ordinances but police say it is not.
But what’s igniting more anger are posts on his personal Facebook account that mention killing all Muslims and ‘thinning the heard’ when it comes to Black Lives Matter.
The demonstration doesn’t start until 7 p.m. but people are already starting to gather.
Just being in the village, it’s obvious that the community is divided.
“Everything has just been blown way out of proportion,” says Deb Mooneyhan, Cedar Street Sweets Bakery owner..
Phoebe Hoops, Women’s March Michigan organizer, says, “It’s strictly about the village president and his hate speech in a very public forum.”
Words like "kill every last Muslim" posted by the village president on Facebook has people talking, and picking sides.
“We totally believe in the freedom of speech and we respect him and his right to say whatever he likes, but the fact that he needs to be held responsible for what you’re saying, especially if it’s borderline hate speech,” explains Phoebe.
This demonstration isn’t just about freedom of speech, it’s to call for a resignation.
“We drive through Kalkaska, we bank in Kalkaska, we go to their businesses, I go to a nursery there; we’re all part of one community and we all feel affected when someone is speaking out with hate speech against an entire group of people based on their religion,” says Phoebe.
Deb argues, “He has done a lot of things for the community, he has gotten different things put in the community. No, it hasn’t taken away from him being a good leader and I really don’t see why he should resign or why they should expect him to resign.”
With the community so torn, the sheriff is hoping voices are heard in peace.
“At this point, we’re just preparing, keeping apprised of what’s potential down there. If it’s a peaceful event, you may not see much of law enforcement presence,” says Sheriff Patrick Whiteford.
The “No Hate in Kalkaska” demonstration starts at 7, but in front of the Hotel Sieting there’s also an open carry celebration just a few yards away.
We’ll have continuing coverage of the demonstration on air and online.