Hundreds rally in Saline for diversity after man makes racist comment

Posted at 11:31 PM, Feb 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-06 05:20:00-05

SALINE, Mich. (WXYZ) — Around 200 people in Saline rallied in their downtown to show their support for minorities in the community.

Many in the small town are reeling after video captured a man making a racially insensitive comment toward another parent at a meeting that was held to discuss concerns about acceptance and diversity at schools.

Adrian Iraola was speaking out with parents and school administrators about how racism impacted his child when he was interrupted.

RELATED: 'This is present and real and ugly.' Father faces racist remark at Saline diversity meeting

As Iraola was in mid-sentence, a man behind him, identified as Tom Burtell, spoke out and said, "Then why didn't you stay in Mexico?"

Many city leaders are here — standing in solidarity with protestors.

— Rudy Harper (@RudyHarperWXYZ) February 5, 2020

The comment was immediately condemned by others in the audience.

Saline Area Schools plans to host another community conversation on diversity, equity and inclusion at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 12 at Liberty School, 7265 N. Ann Arbor St.

A statement from the school is below.

February 4, 2020

Saline Area Schools Families & Staff,

Hate, prejudice, and racism have no place in our schools or our community.

Yesterday, February 3rd, an individual in the Saline community made racist remarks at a forum directed at one of the parents in our community. This type of bigotry goes against all of the values and beliefs of our school system.

The Saline Board of Education and administration take the issue of student and adult behavior seriously. We are striving to ensure a welcoming, inclusive, and safe environment for all students and families, regardless of their race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender identity, or any other identity.

We have heard from and are listening to students, parents, community members throughout the District. We will continue to listen as we move forward and establish additional actions to support our students.

Over the past several years, we have established a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, worked with our local intermediate school district to train teachers and administrators on social justice practices, and taken a number of steps to support a more culturally inclusive curriculum in our school district. However, it’s very clear that there is a great deal of additional work that we need to do to educate our students, staff, and community on the painful impact that racism has on our society.

This is an opportunity for us – the staff, students, and community of Saline Area Schools – to stand for anti-racism, respect, and inclusion of all students.

Scot Graden


Saline Area Schools