Detroit asks man to prove race

May 4, 2012 at 4:56 PM
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DETROIT, May 4 (UPI) -- A Detroit business owner said the city wants him to prove he is African-American to keep his preferred status as a minority-owned business.

Jerome Morgan, who operates the Harbor Hills Marina, said he believes he is being targeted because the city attempted to evict him for being late on rent payments but they were stopped by a judge, WDIV-TV, Detroit, reported Friday.

Morgan said the city wanted to give the marina to a supporter of Mayor Dave Bing for much less rent.

He said he received a letter asking to see his birth certificate to prove his ethnic heritage a few weeks after the judge's ruling.

"All the information we get, everybody's been telling us, 'My direction comes from the mayor's office.' So who's in the mayor's office been leading this spearhead, this attack?" Morgan said.

The mayor's office issued a statement saying it no longer requires Morgan to submit a birth certificate but he still needs to submit paperwork to qualify for minority business owner status. The office said the staff member who sent the letter asking for the proof of ethnicity was unaware of the city's previous issues with Morgan.

The Detroit City Council said Morgan's treatment will be discussed at an upcoming meeting.

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