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In response to swastikas, Albion crowd gathers for unity and prayer

Albion, MI is among the top vote-getters in a magazine competition aimed at boosting community spirit. If it wins, the prize money could be used to renovate the city's downtown theater.
File photo
Downtown Albion

A group of people met in Albion last night in an attempt to unify the community after someone vandalized several buildings downtown.

The city put out a press release Tuesday morningcondemning the “act of ethnic intimidation.” The release said the vandalism included two swastikas spray painted on an empty store front. Police are looking for information in the case.

Reverend Donald Phillips heads the Albion Ministerial Association. It helped organize a “unity and prayer gathering” in response to the graffiti. He says he talked to business leaders, other community groups, city and school leaders – who all felt the need to gather and support one another as a community.

Phillips says a couple hundred people showed up, on relatively short notice. He says he and a laundry list of community and religious leaders, Albion College students, business owners prayed together, talked to each other.  

“I had them say several times, ‘I am Albion, you are Albion, we are Albion’ and to really get that sense that we are all connected in this,” Phillips said.

Then, Phillips says people signed a big banner they hung on the front of one of the vandalized businesses that said – "We choose love." He says the graffiti was removed.

“It was a wonderful turnout. There were people who said to me, they were angry at 12 o’clock noon but their heart was filled with love after seeing that,” he said.

Phillips says the crowd’s unity is a more accurate representation of Albion than any middle-of-the-night-vandal should be.

“Albion is multi-cultural and there are a lot of folks we’ve grown up with friends of different backgrounds, different races for a long time. So I felt like whoever did it wasn’t really a representation of the majority of our community at all,” he said.

Lindsey Smith is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently leading the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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