HomeSouth Asian AmericanBangladeshi festival cancelled due to alleged discrimination

Bangladeshi festival cancelled due to alleged discrimination

City officials in Warren, Michigan abruptly canceled a planned community festival celebrating Bangladeshi American for being “too ethnic,” Detroit Metro Times reports

Organizers from the Bangladeshi Association of Michigan (BAM)received word from Warren Parks and Recreation Director Dino Turcato that he didn’t want an “ethnic” gathering at Warren City Square, a common space where numerous events are regularly held.  

BAM President Jabed Chowdbury expressed his reaction to this decision in a letter to the  Warren City Council, according to Detroit Metro Times. 

“Without any reason, park recreation are canceling the event just because we are a people of color,” Jabed stated. “We are being racially discriminated… We are really upset and feeling violated of our rights.”

The Bangladeshi American Festival has been hosted at Warren Square for 14 years but this year will make its first comeback since 2020 due to COVID-19, the group’s Facebook event page said. BAM planned to have the event take place July 22-23. 

The non-profit organization planned well in advance for the festival including signing a rental agreement back in February, hiring organizers and artists, and putting down a $1,000 deposit to the city, Detroit Metro Times said.

City council members of Warren condemned Turcato and Mayor Jim Fotus administration’s decision including Councilman Johnathan Lafferty and Council Secretary Mindy Moore. The council members say that the event’s cancellation is grounds for a discrimination lawsuit against the City of Warren.

“It sounds like a potential civil lawsuit against the city,” Lafferty said at a city meeting on Tuesday. “We don’t tell people you can’t do something because of your race or ethnic heritage. That is not what we do.” 

The controversy has also pushed city officials to implement an anti-discrimination ordinance for Warren—prohibiting discrimination on the basis of ethnicity. Currently, the city’s Parks and Recreation sector complies with Title IX Education Amendments of 1972, but does not mention any other inclusive ordinances on its website

“I was horrified to learn about the details behind the cancellation of this event. No one in the city administration has the right to deny anyone the ability to celebrate their heritage within our borders,” Lafferty commented on the group’s Facebook page. “You have the support of President Patrick Green, Vice President Garry Watts, Secretary Mindy Moore, and Asst. Secretary Jonathan Lafferty.” 

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  1. This was the second year in a row the parks director and the mayor cancelled this festival. After much public backlash and threat of a lawsuit, the mayor changed positions to allow it. The city council is now drafting an anti-discrimination ordinance to prevent that from happening again. Stop the hate!


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