Black family sues Grosse Pointe man who displayed KKK flag outside their home
A Black mother and her daughter filed a racial harassment and discrimination lawsuit against their former white neighbor in Grosse Pointe Park on Tuesday after he terrorized them and displayed a Ku Klux Klan flag in a side window facing their home in 2021.
The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court alleges Ryan Wilde began tormenting JeDonna Dinges and her daughter, India Dinges, shortly after moving in next door.
In addition to hanging the racist flag just five feet from the Dinges’ home, Wilde allegedly left a full gas can in the family’s recycling bin and repeatedly fired his gun from his back porch in the middle of the night.
Fearful for their safety, the Dinges eventually moved out of their home.
“We felt terrorized in our own house and feared for our lives,” JeDonna Dinges, a small business owner, said in a statement. “I thought the days of the KKK forcing Black families out of white neighborhoods and threatening to burn down Black homes was a thing of the past.”
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy declined to charge Wilde, saying what he did was “despicable” but did not rise to the level of a crime.
The lawsuit, filed by the Civil Rights Litigation Initiative at the University of Michigan Law School, claims Wilde has a racist and violent history. When speaking to the police about the Dinges family, Wilde allegedly used the n-word. He also told someone on a dating website that he hated the Dinges, and in an unrelated road rage incident, he called a Black driver the n-word, according to the lawsuit.
After news broke about the KKK flag in February 2021, hundreds of demonstrators marched in support of the Dinges family, with many holding signs that read, “Hate has no home in Grosse Pointe.”
Despite the community’s support for the Dinges family, Wilde continued his campaign of harassment, the lawsuit states.
“This case harkens back to a shameful time in our history when the KKK used threats and violence to enforce segregated neighborhoods,” CRLI student attorney Sarah Hall said. “We, like the hundreds of Grosse Pointe residents who marched in support of our clients, will work to ensure that those who make racial threats are held accountable.”
Among other things, the lawsuit alleges Wilde unlawfully interfered with the Dinges’ property rights in violation of a Reconstruction-era law intended to protect Black people from the KKK. Wilde also violated Michigan’s Ethnic Intimidation Act, the lawsuit alleges.