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Former Kent County Prosecutor: Hispanics are devolving into culture of gangs and drugs.

A former assistant prosecutor spoke at a West Michigan Hispanic Center in Kent County, MI. He warned that he is watching young Latinos embracing the same gang culture that is embraced by the black community. Naturally he is being attacked as a “racist.”


After hearing what some Kent County commissioners said were racist remarks from a former assistant prosecutor this week, county board members are questioning whether they can do more to stem vitriolic remarks while preserving residents’ First Amendment rights.

Following a routine report on activities at the Hispanic Center of West Michigan, a Cascade Township resident on Thursday told county board members that the Hispanic community is destined to devolve into a culture of drugs and gangs.

Some board members found the comments so offensive that Chairwoman Sandi Frost Parrish, R-Cascade Township, cautioned the man to keep his remarks relevant to the agenda. Three other commissioners walked out of the room rather than listen to the man.

“The Hispanic, Latino community is right now where the black community was 30 years ago, except it’s going to accelerate the problems … it’ll be accelerated because of gangs and the prolific increase in the use of drugs,” said Cascade resident Don Zerial, a retired assistant Kent County prosecutor.

“As those of you that know I’ve had 34 years of experience before I retired from the prosecutor’s office,” he added. “I am an expert in all of the areas that I come and talk to you about. The forces that brought the black community where it is now, Detroit etc., it’s called liberalism.”

Zerial is a frequent commenter at many area public meetings and has been cautioned before by county officials to keep his remarks relevant to the issues being discussed.

“Certainly his comments were offensive and throughout them I was conferring with counsel to see if he had crossed the line and violated the First Amendment, and the conclusion was that he had not,” Parrish said. “The First Amendment allows people to speak their minds and that’s sometimes difficult to hear.”

Commissioners Dan Korrndyk, R-Grand Rapids, along with Grand Rapids Democrats Jim Talen and Candace Chivis left the room during what Koorndyk characterized as the man’s “racist tirade.” The man has a long history of commenting at local government meetings, often on issues having little to do with current proceedings.