GM has suspended the arrest powers of security forces at the GM Renaissance Center (RenCen) following allegations of harassment and abuse among white officers targeting black visitors. A number of incidents are cited dating back to 2011, and include injuries and hospitalizations. The General Motors RenCen in Detroit, Michigan serves as the automaker’s world headquarters.
According to a recent report from Detroit Free Press, which cites a statement by General Motors spokesperson Kevin Kelly, RenCen officers are no longer permitted to carry handcuffs, while the number of officers permitted to carry guns has been reduced. Some officers still carry weapons for protection against dangers like active shooters.
The accusations of harassment and abuse go back more than a decade, and detail a pattern of systemic racism among white officers targeting black visitors. The accusations include unlawful detention of individuals in a basement cell of the RenCen building, as well as one man who claims he suffered a brain injury after he was assaulted by white officers. The man says that he was detained for hours in a basement cell, denied the use of a restroom, and forced to urinate on himself. The incident resulted in a federal lawsuit filed early last year, while the man targeted was never charged with a crime.
One woman claims that a white security officer struck her in the face and beat her after an argument over whether she could bring her bike inside the RenCen last August. The woman, who is in her 60s, suffers from mental illness, and was hospitalized for a month after the incident. Video of the incident shows a security officer slamming the woman into a concrete pillar, forcing her to the ground, and repeatedly punching her in the face. A Detroit Police Department official says the woman allegedly attacked a security officer with a tree branch, although no criminal charges were filed against her.
The GM RenCen security force was initially formed by General Motors, and now includes ties with G4S Secure Solutions and Allied Universal.