An anti-Muslim group known as Secure Michigan, labeled as a hate group, is trying to influence the upcoming city elections in Sterling Heights, according to one candidate.
Mike Radtke, who is vying for a city council seat in November, said Secure Michigan, based in New Baltimore, is sending inflammatory questionnaires to candidates. The questions reflect the group’s opposition to refugees and its claim that American Muslims are trying to impose Sharia Law across the U.S.
In a fundraising pitch to his supporters that was emailed on Monday, Radtke said:
“It’s clear to me that outside groups are hoping to use bigotry and hatred to affect our city council elections in Sterling Heights. This is unacceptable. And after the tragedy that unfolded in Charlottesville (Virginia) this weekend, we need to be vigilant about outside agitators attempting to sow discord in our community.
Secure Michigan is one of 28 organizations in Michigan identified as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) because they are openly anti-Muslim, neo-nazis, white nationalists or KKK affiliates. Some groups on the list are black separatists.
On their website, Secure Michigan criticizes the SPLC, claiming that it is a liberal organization that unfairly labels conservatives in harsh terms.
The website includes a June photo of a Sterling Heights council candidate, Jazmine Early (pictured above), participating in an anti-Muslim protest in Southfield that was promoted by Secure Michigan.
“The sad fact is that one of my opponents, Jazmine Early, already stands with Secure Michigan,” Radtke, a Democrat, wrote in his email. “She’s featured on their website prominently attacking Muslims. And she was one of the people that personally discriminated against a group of Muslims wishing to build a mosque in our city.”
That opposition to the new mosque by a very vocal group of residents preceded a decision by officials to block the project, which led to a lawsuit and a $350,000 settlement paid by the city.
Critics first labeled Early as a bigot when she loudly opposed an anti-LGBT discrimination ordinance in 2014. She also aligned with anti-immigrant activists in the city, including Jackie Ryan, who now serves as a deputy (registrar of deeds) to controversial county Clerk Karen Spranger.
In the last council election in November 2015, Early and Ryan were part of an ultraconservative slate of candidates that lost by landslide proportions.