Man charged with ethnic intimidation after confronting Grand Rapids couple at park
WYOMING, MI – A man is charged with ethnic intimidation for allegedly making derogatory remarks and threatening a Grand Rapids Muslim couple.
John Edward Haan, 59, waived a hearing in Wyoming District Court on Wednesday, June 23, on charges of a potential two-year prison sentence.
The couple that police say fell victim – 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 at Ideal Park.
Instead, Pardon and Price went to the park on May 24th 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 reportedly told her to “go back to where she came from” and began using expletives to her.
Price was nearby, standing between his wife and husband. The man allegedly walked up to her and pulled some sort of knife or screwdriver out of a bicycle or scooter, she said.
Price called 911 when the couple left without a physical altercation. A worker from the nearby Wyoming Parks Department watched what happened and verified the couple’s account, police said on an affidavit.
Officers later located Haan, and Kent County prosecutors eventually issued an arrest warrant.
Pardon said the incident was worrying. The man seemed clear.
“He made it very clear what he thought of us,” she said. “I just attribute it to ignorance.”
Her husband had similar feelings.
“I just wasn’t expecting it,” said Price.
When asked what an appropriate sentence could be for Haan, Price said he didn’t think jail would be a good option. Instead, he prefers some kind of educational instruction.
“I think a lot of that anger is likely 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 give him a prison term,” Price said.
Haan was not immediately available for comment.
Wyoming Police Chief James Maguffee said the ethnic intimidation law is not used often.
He commended the Wyoming officials investigating the case as they realized that the incident at Ideal Park was a situation in which he could be charged.
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