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NAR condemns racial profiling of Michigan agent

by Emily Mack

The National Association of REALTORS® has taken a strong stance against what it calls a “deeply disturbing” incident of “racial profiling” that occurred when police in Wyoming, Michigan detained a Black real estate agent and his client.

The incident in early August became national news when agent Eric Brown was showing Roy Thorne a house in a residential neighborhood, and police approached the property with guns drawn. Brown, Thorne, and Thorne’s 15-year-old son, all three of whom are Black, were instructed to exit the house with their hands raised. They were then handcuffed and detained until Brown could provide proof of his credentials.

The house had been broken into one week prior at which time a black car was spotted in the driveway. Brown also drives a black car.

The house’s listing agent Kyle Gummere said the homeowners maintain that a neighbor called the police after seeing Brown’s car near the house. But considering the real estate professional had proper access to the keys of the house, the incident appeared to be racially motivated. It was widely reported as such.

In response, NAR issued a statement condemning the “humiliation, indignity, and trauma” faced by Brown and the Thornes. NAR president Charlie Oppler called the incident “deeply disturbing” and noted that while no one was hurt, such events have a psychological impact:

“While, thankfully, neither Brown nor his clients were physically harmed in the incident, racial profiling — and the humiliation, indignity, and trauma that comes with it — has no place in our country,” Oppler wrote. “NAR’s top priority is the safety and well-being of all our members as we work tirelessly each and every day to make the American Dream of owning a home a reality for all.”

Brown’s own local board, the Greater Regional Alliance of REALTORS®, also commented on the situation in support of Brown:

“The GRAR Board of Directors will be discussing Eric’s experience at its upcoming meeting to determine what GRAR can or should be doing both in response to this event and in how we can contribute to the healing of the unrest in our communities that these types of situations incite,” the statement reads. “In the meantime, GRAR leadership will be doing its homework to attempt to ascertain the facts so that it does not contribute to the polarizing impact that can potentially result from this type of incident.”

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