Man accused of ethnic bullying after confronting Grand Rapids couple in park
WYOMING, MI – A man is charged with ethnic bullying for allegedly making derogatory remarks and threatening a Muslim couple in Grand Rapids.
John Edward Haan, 59, waived a probable cause hearing in Wyoming District Court on Wednesday, June 23 on the charge, carrying a potential two-year prison sentence.
The couple who police say were victimized – Renee Pardon and Quincy Price – were born and raised in Grand Rapids. They were wearing traditional clothing often worn by Muslims – a head covering for Pardon and a tunic-like garment for Price – when a man apparently believed Pardon had photographed him in Ideal Park.
Pardon and Price were at the park on May 24, instead, to see if the park would be a good location for their wedding reception. They got married in December.
According to Pardon, who spoke to MLive on Wednesday, Haan told her to “go back to where she came from” and started cursing her.
Price was nearby and stood between his wife and the man. The man allegedly started walking towards them and pulled some sort of knife or screwdriver from a bicycle or scooter, she said.
Price called 911 as the couple walked away without any physical altercation. A nearby Wyoming Parks Department employee witnessed what happened and corroborated the couple’s account, police said in a probable cause affidavit.
Officers then tracked down Haan, and Kent County prosecutors eventually issued a warrant.
Forgiveness said the incident was concerning. The man seemed lucid.
“He was very categorical in saying what he thought of us,” she said. “I just attribute it to ignorance.”
Her husband had similar feelings.
“I just didn’t expect it,” Price said.
When asked what might be an appropriate punishment for Haan, Price said he didn’t think jail would be a good option. Instead, he prefers some sort of educational instruction.
“I think a lot of that anger is probably coming from social media or what he saw on the news,” he said. “He might think that all Muslims are terrorists.
“I think it would be better to educate him about Muslims than to give him a prison sentence,” Price said.
Haan could not immediately be reached for comment.
Wyoming Police Captain James Maguffee said the ethnic bullying law was not used often.
He praised the Wyoming officers who investigated the case upon realizing that the Ideal Park incident was a situation where he could be charged.
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