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Residents rally for awareness of alleged discriminatory practices

Hilary Farrell

A group of residents rallied outside a Grand Rapids bank accused in court of previous discriminatory lending.

About 15 demonstrators stood outside of Mercantile Bank on the corner of Leonard Street and Scribner Avenue on Friday with signs reading ‘Black Businesses Matter’ and ‘Unfair Lending’.

Roosevelt Tillman is one of about a dozen plaintiffs in federal court.

He says Friday’s action is about awareness.

“[People are] honking and [giving] thumbs up, you know, having the courage for that kind of thing. It’s been really nice.”

The demonstration was coordinated by a group called Black Businesses Matter West Michigan. Tillman says discussions began surrounding the Flint water crisis.

"Because we can’t keep sitting down and do nothing. Nothing [will] ever happen, it’ll be the same-old, same-old. We gotta exercise our voices, our rights."

Plaintiffs allege unfair financial practices and disparate treatment between white and minority clients.

The company’s attorney has said in court the claims are not backed up by evidence.

Hilary is a General Assignment and Enterprise reporter for WGVU Public Media. She joined WGVU in September 2014 after several years of experience as a local news reporter, anchor and photojournalist in Midland, Saginaw and Bay counties. She's also worked as a financial and business reporter and audio field producer.
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