Two Men Charged in Fist Painting
Judge: Defacing of statue is akin to cross-burning
David G. Grant, Detroit News, Feb. 25
DETROIT — Two Washtenaw County men were charged with felonies Tuesday for painting the statue of Joe Louis’ fist white — an act the judge likened to a cross-burning.
“This is definitely not a prank,” said 36th District Magistrate Steve Lockhart. “This is a threat. This is the same as a cross-burning.”
Brett James Cashman, 45, and John Price, 27, both of Superior Township, each face up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted of malicious destruction of property over $1,000.
The vandalism of the fist, a longtime touchstone for racial issues in Detroit, had sparked emotions in a city where, last week, two police officers were killed. A Detroit man is charged with their slayings.
The two vandalism suspects’ lawyers in court Wednesday portrayed the painting as a political statement about the violence in Detroit.
Lockhart ordered the men held on $10,000 bond. If they post bond, the men must wear electronic tethers, remain on house arrest and get permission from the court to go to work. Their preliminary examination is set for March 18.
According to court documents, police say the men left photos of the two slain police officers, Jennifer Fettig and Matthew Bowens, at the statue. Fettig and Bowens where shot Feb. 17 during a traffic stop. Written at the bottom of the pictures was: “Courtesy of Fighting Whities,” according to the police report.
The vandalism suspects were arrested Monday on Interstate 94 in Romulus. Airport limousine driver Tommie Ruffin, 47, saw them, covered in paint, running from the statue about 3 a.m. and getting into a pickup truck. Ruffin followed them and called police on his cell phone.
Romulus police said the men said, “We did it for you guys,” when they were arrested.