LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — In August, Stephannie Gager said she was outside, enjoying the day with her family and neighbors in Lansing when all of a sudden someone came down the road and started shouting hate speech at them.
“A car drove up, kind of slowed down in front our house and it was full of people and someone yelled out the window, ‘This isn’t the gayborhood you’re not welcome here,'” Gager said.
It was something the group wasn’t expecting to hear in today’s society. The comment even brought family conversations about packing up and leaving the area.
“To hear that was very unsettling and scary,” Gager said. “I said to my wife, ‘It’s time to move,’ but I mean this is our home, this is where we put our roots down.”
The Michigan Department of Civil Rights said situations like these have more of an effect than people imagine.
“It traumatizes not just the victim but the entire community and beyond,” said Anthony Lewis, director of MDCR’s Community and Education Division. “And not every incident motivated by hate is a crime, bias incidents are far too common. All of us have seen videos of people being taunted with racial slurs, being refused service based on their race, ethnicity, disability and more.”
Which is why they’ve released a PSA video drawing attention to the topic and where people can go for help.
“So, to provide awareness on what to do, how to report it, how to recognize what is a hate crime or a biased incident and then what to do in the event of such a thing,” Lewis said.
As for Gager, she said her community response was overwhelming.
“A lot of neighbors said they were going to put up flags for solidarity, a local lending library added a little placard card to let people know about the situation and they put flags in there as well,” she said.