Owosso featured in "Nightline" story - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Owosso featured in "Nightline" story

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OWOSSO (WJRT) -

(01/21/14) - Some Mid-Michigan residents are upset over video shot last year that puts their community in a bad light. That video, which links their town to a controversial young man, was highlighted on a national news program Friday night.

What turned out to be a 4 second shot of a social activist walking through downtown Owosso has some folks reacting and denying claims of racism.

The man in question is Matthew Heimback, who was profiled on the ABC News program "Nightline" last Friday.

"Nightline" followed him around the country last year for a tour, which included a brief visit to Owosso in September. At the time, Heimbach was promoting a Koran-burning rally in Corunna, an event that never materialized. He's also been accused of having ties to various racist movements, connections that he denies. The "Nightline" video shows him walking on Exchange Street in Owosso, prompting residents to defend their town's reputation.

"As far as somebody who is racist, I don't have the patience for that, because that's not how I was raised," said Owosso resident and New York native Jennifer Monroe.

"The whole idea is just ridiculous that Owosso is a white supremacist city. It's not how Owosso is," said Owosso resident Marie White.

"Everybody seems to genuinely get along with everybody," said Ryan Borg, who recently moved to Owosso from Durand.

Most Owosso residents said they didn't see the original broadcast. However, conversation has been brisk on the Friends and Community Owosso Facebook page with several hundred comments on the topic.

While this town of nearly 15,000 is 93 percent white, community leader Jeff Deason from the Shiawassee Region Chamber of Commerce says they are working on becoming more diverse.

"We're trying our best to attract people here. We want people to come here, of all races. We think it's important to our plan of growth for the future to be able to attract everybody," he said.

Friends and Community Owosso Facebook page editor Tom Manke told me that Owosso has problems like any other city, but people are working to overcome those problems and make it a place where everyone is welcome, regardless of their race or religion.

To see the "Nightline" story, click HERE.

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