Mall protest on the Web

Sometime in early June, Darrick Muhammad, a former security supervisor at Fairlane Town Center in Dearborn, said he deleted his Web site alleging racism on the part of Dearborn Police and the mall’s security staff.

Then, on June 22, Frederick Finley, who is black, died at the hands of Fairlane security guards in an incident stemming from his daughter’s alleged shoplifting of a $4 bracelet from Lord &Taylor. The incident has triggered a $600 million lawsuit by Finley’s survivors and brought thousands of protesters to the mall. One guard has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in Finley’s death.

Muhammad told News Hits that before he deleted the site, mall officials had assured him that the atmosphere there had improved for African-Americans since 1993 when he was fired by Fairlane’s former management. He later sued unsuccessfully, alleging racism in his firing.

"We talked about how things had changed over the years," said Muhammad, referring to a recent meeting he said he had with the mall’s general manager, Aj Jemison, and Fairlane security officials. "Aj assured me that people weren’t being discriminated against. She assured me that she did not tolerate it and it would not happen anymore."

A mall spokeswoman said she could not comment immediately and could not confirm that mall officials had met with Muhammad.

Amid the widespread publicity following Finley’s death, Muhammad, who is African-American, said he received angry e-mails over nixing the Web site. "One of them accused me of being a sellout," said Muhammad, who has since restored the site.

Muhammad said the site reappeared on June 30 and received 800 hits during the next 10 days. "I’ve never gotten this much interest from people over that Web site," Muhammad said.

The Web site includes links to news articles about Finley’s death and Dearborn’s history of racism. It also provides information about Muhammad. The 36-year-old Detroiter said that in 1997 a judge dismissed his suit against Fairlane for lack of proof. Muhammad also was involved in a suit against Dearborn Police over an alleged brutality incident in 1990. That suit, he said, was settled in 1994, although he declined to discuss details.

News Hits is edited by W. Kim Heron. He can be reached by phone at 313-202-8004 or via e-mail
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