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Mayor Charged With Racial Intimidation

Thu., Nov. 7, 1996, midnight

Mayor Mark Steenbergh was charged Wednesday with two counts stemming from a September incident in which he allegedly choked and shouted a racial slur at a black teenager.

Steenbergh was charged with one count of racial intimidation and one count of misdemeanor assault after the altercation with John Harris, 16.

He was released on $25,000 personal bond. Racial intimidation is a felony punishable by up to two years in prison.

Steenbergh, who is white, has denied making any racial slurs during the Sept. 11 incident. He acknowledged that he confronted Harris, believing the teenager had attacked a friend of his daughter earlier that day on a street in Harris’ neighborhood.

Steenbergh said he yelled at Harris: “You’re bigger than her. You could have killed her.” The mayor’s aides have said the word “bigger” might have been misheard as a racial slur.

Warren, a city of 150,000, is a predominantly white, working-class suburb of Detroit.

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