MLK 'bling' flyer sparks outrage

Michigan flyer shows civil rights leader sporting a chain, flashing a gang sign

By Wesley Goheen
POSTED: 02:26 PM PST Jan 15, 2014    UPDATED: 02:02 PM PST Jan 15, 2014 
MLK bling picture
FLINT, Mich. (WNEM) -

It's a flyer intended to publicize a local Martin Luther King Day event, but instead it's sparking outrage.

And the controversy is drawing national attention.

In his 20 years as a business owner, Flint resident Victor McEwen says he has never experienced anything like this past week.

That's when a flyer was released with the name of one of his businesses attached to it.

"To use one of our fallen giants in this depiction, of course without permission I'm sure, is just [a] racket," McEwen said.

The flyer depicts civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., wearing a large gold chain and flashing a gang sign.

It's part of an advertisement for a party that was to be held at McEwen's event center in Flint this Saturday.

McEwen said after seeing the flyer, he contacted the man who rented his hall under the name Mid-Michigan Teen Parties to talk him about it, but got nowhere.

"I wanted his reaction, and he did not agree. He [said] there was nothing wrong with it. He was trying to deal with younger crowd and thought it was the route he should go," McEwen told WNEM.

McEwen canceled the contract with Mid-Michigan Teen Parties, but knows he has to deal with the fallout.

However, McEwen said he knows he did the right thing by voiding the man's contract.