Sunday, October 26, 2014

Grand Haven BURNING? Kahle Says Pro-Cross Veterans Event Was Like A "KKK Rally"

By Brandon Hall
(Email him at

"The only thing missing were their hoods and robes" said Mitch Kahle on Facebook (via his personal account in a comment on the Remove the Cross Page), describing the pro-Cross rally organized by Spring Lake veteran Rick Phillips.

"The "cross keepers" motorcycle group looked like the modern equivalent of the KKK parading around Grand Haven. All that was missing was a burning cross."

Such hateful statements are "the way she goes" for Kahle, exposed by West Michigan Politics last week as a persistent bully who profits off of his anti-Christian hate.

For Phillips, who served in Vietnam as a Navy Assault Craft Engineer from 1974-75,
 the fight to #SaveTheGrandHavenCross is personal. He organized the rally after disappointment with the Grand Haven Tribune's "Community Conversation."

"It was just a platform for the opponents of the Cross, Phillips said. "They didn't ask a lot of our questions, it was childish and one sided-no conversation was going on there. So I thought about it all weekend and Monday it hit me-we gotta do something."

Phillips pulled no punches in responding to the attack in an interview with West Michigan Politics Monday afternoon.

"(Kahle) thinks we'll back down and he'll get his $200,000 like he did before," Phillips said. "He's got another thing coming-we'll run 'em broke. We'll build a war chest and hire lawyers if that's the game they want to play. There's millions of veterans in the U.S. and word is spreading about the Cross. It's not just a religious symbol-it's a symbol of hope. That cross got a lot of guys home from Vietnam-it got them through the horror."

One of those guys was Billy Haynes. 

Billy was a "tunnel rat" in Vietnam, scoping out tunnels built by the Vietcong that held secret rooms underground. His wife died four years ago, and in his grief, he found solace in custom making his Veteran tribute bike, which he proudly brought to Grand Haven on Saturday.

See below:

The Remove the Grand Haven Cross page posted the above pictures and falsely  claimed "Loaded machine guns transported on motor vehicle iGrand Haven" They then cited Michigan law in a post, insinuating the "gun" was illegal.

Here are some pictures of Billy's bike you may not have seen.

"When Billy built that was a real healing process," Phillips said. "The personal attacks on Billy and his bike-I resent anyone who says things like that. They twisted that and made it in to be something it's not. Billy worked on that bike for three winters after his wife died, we know what's in our heart. That bike has been to so many car shows and Vet memorials, some Cops in town have been to the shop and seen it-law enforcement was well aware it wasn't a real gun. It's just ridiculous." 

Jeff Grunow runs the Keep The Grand Haven Cross Facebook page and has helped to lead Pro-Cross efforts. He shares Phillips' outrage.

"That reference is so outlandish and insulting-it's just the stupidest thing (Kahle) has said to date," Grunow said of Kahle's Klan comments. "Honestly, it is of such a low level that it does not even deserve any kind of response, it just shows the attempt to push buttons- to stir the pot and get an intense and (hopefully ) violent response. which no one will entertain."

Grunow also said Billy Hayne's bike is amazing, noting that  Kahle continues to spread misinformation.

 ."Obviously, people that have commented in a negative way only see the illusion of a machine gun behind a motorcycle, which truth be told isn't even real," Grunow said. "I wonder how many of them have also seen Bigfoot? The bike and trailer project have a story that is amazing, and I for one don't even think again it warrants any rebuttal, it is just more misinformation. 

Also, keep in mind that this was a rally organized by a group of Veterans in the Tri-Cities area...Did the fact that a veteran showed up with any kind of tribute that involved a weapon surprise anyone? What did he expect? A trailer full of teddy bears and rainbows??I think not."

Cross proponent William Hoffman is the father of a service member-he was shocked by Kahle's comments.

"How dare you Mr. Khale, Holly Huber, Kathy Plescher, Brian Plescher stand under the very freedom these men have fought and died to protect the freedom you now enjoy, comment on his bike, his freedom of expression and his freedom of religion while you sit on your couch and enjoy the freedom he helped insure for you.

 He paid for his right of freedom speech, as did Rick and all the vets at the rally, They paid for it in untold horrors I hope none of us ever have to see nor endure. My son is enlisted and i pray he never has to see a battlefield , pull his wounded brothers out of harms way, or watch them die protecting our freedoms."

Phillips worries Vets are too often forgotten as they struggle with returning home after the toll of war..

"No one wants to talk about it, but if you look back, the Tri-Cities took a disproportionate toll in Vietnam," Phillips said. "I struggled for 30, 35 years before I started going to Vets groups."

As for Kahle and his ilk, they're just getting started. The next targets? The Nativity during Christmas, and apparently, Grand Haven Area Public Schools longstanding religious openness.

Kathy Plescher on Facebook: "You are right, Anissa, they are bombarded in school with this, even at the elementary levels. Kids will bully other children if they say they don't go to church. There are also ministers trying to get into middle schools to hold lunch hour prayer meetings, and the schools are letting them!"

Also, The Remove The Cross Page wrote Monday:

"The cross and Nativity must and will be removed from Dewey Hill. It's that simple."

Unfortunately the Tribune doesn't have the guts that local Hawaii papers did. One of them wrote an editorial chastising Kahle after he fought against a grieving family who put crosses at the scene of a tragic mudslide in a Hawaii State Park.

"CONSTITUTIONAL separation of church and state does not mean that government property must be devoid of any manifestation of religion. Eight wooden crosses memorializing the victims of the 1999 Mother's Day rockslide at Sacred Falls in Windward Oahu were an expression of First Amendment rights, not a violation of the same amendment's prohibition of government establishment of religion. The crosses, which were erected by a grieving relative of one of the victims, should be returned."

They continued:

"Mitchell Kahle, president of Hawaii Citizens for Separation of Church and State, complained last month that the crosses created "the appearance of a government preference for the Christian religion." Kahle's deduction was mistaken, as far-fetched as concluding that a cross seen at the location of a fatal traffic accident is anything more than the sign of a family's expression of grief."

Kahle is an agent of hate. Grand Haven can't play with kid gloves when dealing with a seasoned bully like Kahle-speak up, let City Council know where you stand.

"For everything there is a season...    A time to be quiet and a time to speak..."

Read more of WMP's coverage on the Cross issue in Grand Haven below:

Supreme Court Rulings Against Kahle Are Positive Sign For Grand Haven Cross Supporters

Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.
Email him at
Photo By Darlene Dowling Thompson

1 comment:

  1. I wanted to express to you how concerning this incident is. I'm not inclined to take sides because I don't have a very good understanding of the whole issue. What I do know is that people who violate rights, they violate them all over the place. Hate crimes against particular groups aren't one time occurrences. I don't know who is hating more on whom. I understand that there is frustration on both sides. On May 4, I went to court to determine if I should be able to see my son on Mother's Day. Mother's Day is originally founded by a Methodist woman. It was originally started as a Christian Holiday. Now the whole nation celebrates this day. In the United States it is celebrated on a different day than in the rest of the world. There are only a few countries that do Mother's Day when we do. The reason there was contention and I had to go to court is because my son was born on Mother's Day. I baptized on Mother's Day as a little girl and I had my son on Mother's Day many years later. His birth is really special to me. It is a Christian Holiday for me, even if other people don't celebrate it that way. It's my personal view, my personal way to celebrate this holiday. I have a right to that. I lost my time with my son this year. It only happens to fall with his birthday a few times in his life. That was so heart breaking and inappropriate. In addition to that, when I went into the court house I had to go past the Clothesline Project display. It was in the stairwell. What terrible placement. It isn't accessible to the disabled. 1 in 8 people have a disability. 30% of those disabled report being abused. A disabled person is 30 times more likely to be raped. Those are horrific numbers. To place the display in the stairwell is terrible. The odds are pretty high that a disabled woman will create a t shirt. The odds are pretty low that she would ever see it. What is it that makes people engage in such bigoted practices? It bleeds into everything, everywhere. Those men were so engaged in trying to hush me and my religion, they stomped all over my rights as a disabled woman.I have cerebral palsy. I have been raped twice. Grand Haven is a nightmare of bigoted behavior on a scale that you can't imagine because no one ever sees it. No one wants to see it. It's such a big deal that this city can't find balance. The cross is the smallest issue in a large scale problem. Please address your behaviors. It IS effecting the ability to allow for individual expression and it is bleeding into other rights to accommodation and freedom from violence and abuse. I have a right to be a Christian, a woman and I rock this world being disabled. God breathes his poetry right through me. I'm proud to be a part of God's personal artistic expression. I am lucky to have been so blessed with Divine intention. I have a right to my personal spiritual views that comfort me through my rape and persecution. I was raped by a fellow Christian who prayed with me over dinner before he raped me. That might not seem to have anything to do with a cross but it has everything to do with my ability to find solace in something that is other than this world. I need it because I am here with you. That's what religion does for people. It comforts.