CHESTERFIELD TOWNSHIP (AP) — The burning of a cross
outside the home of a black man and his white wife has prompted a
U.S. Department of Justice examination of race relations in Macomb
County.

Diane Mitchum of the department’s Community Relations
Service was to meet with Police Chief Steve Robbins, Macomb NAACP
President Ruthie Stevenson and others, The Macomb Daily of Mount
Clemens reported yesterday.

“We meet with a variety of people in the community and
look for ways to lower tensions and reduce racial problems,”
Community Relations Service spokesman Daryl Borgquist said.

The agency could recommend actions such as forums, public
statements and increased youth education programs.

“I’m excited about them coming into the area,”
Stevenson said.

The FBI and township police, meanwhile, continue investigating
last week’s burning of a wooden cross on the front lawn of
the home of Jason and Nancy Halliburton.

A racial slur was spray-painted on the attached garage.
Authorities have no suspects in the incident, Robbins said.

Federal officials heard about the incident and wanted to respond
because public cross burnings have become fairly uncommon,
Borgquist said.

Biracial couples and families that move into previously
all-white neighborhoods are targeted most frequently, he said.

Blacks comprise 2.7 percent of the population in Macomb County,
compared with 14.2 percent statewide, according to the 2000 Census.
In Chesterfield Township, 3 percent of residents are black.

The presence of a federal official specializing in healing
racial tensions should help the NAACP, which is planning a series
of public forums on racial issues in Macomb County, Stevenson
said.

The first forum is scheduled for April 17 in Clinton Township.
Forum topics will be decided by those who attend and won’t be
limited to certain subjects, Stevenson said.

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