The Center for Grassroots Oversight

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Profile: Michael Gunn

Michael Gunn was a participant or observer in the following events:

’White Only’ sign posted on Ohio landlord Jamie Hein’s swimming pool.’White Only’ sign posted on Ohio landlord Jamie Hein’s swimming pool. [Source: Ohio Civil Rights Commission / ABC News]Cincinnati, Ohio, landlord Jamie Hein is accused of discriminating against an African-American girl by putting a “white only” sign on the fence surrounding her swimming pool. Hein explains that the sign is an antique, intended only as a decoration, and she is “stick[ing] up for my white rights.” Hein’s sign reads: “Public Swimming Pool. White Only.” It is dated 1931 and is from Alabama. Hein says she collects antiques and was given the sign as a gift. She also says that even though the sign says the pool is public, her pool is on her property and “everybody has to ask before getting in my pool.” Michael Gunn has filed a complaint with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission against Hein. A tenant in one of Hein’s properties, Gunn explains: “We invited my daughter, who is African-American, to visit and swim in the pool for [a] Memorial Day weekend [party]. The owner, Jamie Hein, accused my daughter of making the pool ‘cloudy’ because she used chemicals in her hair. Days later, she posted a sign on the gate to the pool which reads, ‘Public Swimming Pool, White Only.’” Hein denies that she put the sign up in response to Gunn’s daughter, and says it was already in place when she opened her pool for the party, but when the gate is open, the sign cannot be easily seen. Gunn says that his family previously “had unrestricted access to the pool area,” but Hein denies this, saying that everyone must ask permission before swimming in her pool. Gunn says that after the incident, he moved out of the property “in order to not expose my daughter to the sign and the humiliation of the message.” On September 29, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission finds that Hein did violate the Ohio Civil Rights Act by posting the sign, but she files a request for the decision to be reconsidered. After that, the sign is stolen. Hein, who says she has no problem with anyone’s race, tells a reporter: “I’ve never said anything to that child. If I have to stick up for my white rights, I have to stick up for my white rights. It goes both ways.” The commission finds that the posting of such a sign “restricts the social interaction between Caucasians and African-Americans and reinforces discriminatory actions aimed at oppressing people of color.” If Hein loses her request for reconsideration, the case will be referred to the Ohio attorney general and charges could be filed against Hein. (Cornwell 12/13/2011; ABC News 12/15/2011; United Press International 12/15/2011) In January 2012, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission will unanimously vote not to reconsider its ruling, without discussing the issue. (Gabbay 1/12/2012; Mandell 1/12/2012)


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