Mayor Heartwell: Don’t turn Paris tragedy into ‘witch hunt’

Mayor George Heartwell addresses the Paris attacks Nov. 17, 2015.


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP/WOOD) — The mayor of Grand Rapids says he refuses to be afraid in the wake of the terror attacks that killed more than 120 people in Paris.

“I for one, refuse to be afraid. I refuse to hate. I call on citizens of this great city to do the same,” Mayor George Heartwell said during Tuesday morning’s commission meeting.

Heartwell also said the U.S. should not reject “freedom-seeking” refugees. He said the tragedy in Paris must not be turned into a “witch hunt that would sweep innocent people up in its nets.”

The mayor’s comments came a few days after Gov. Snyder said the state was slowing down efforts to accept more Syrian refugees. Authorities said fingerprints from an attacker match those of someone who passed through Greece.

Heartwell Tuesday warned against overreacting to the attacks in the United States.

“We must not cheaply exchange our freedom for security,” he explained.

>>Photos: Attacks on Paris

Heartwell’s response came the same day the FBI announced it was aggressively investigating a surge in violent “misguided” threats against people in Dearborn in reaction to the attacks in Paris.

Dearborn, located about 8 miles east of Detroit, is home to one of the nation’s largest Muslim populations.

“Violent extremism in any form is a risk to public safety and our way of life in America,” U.S. Attorney McQuade said in a Tuesday news release. “We take seriously all threats of violence against any of the residents of our community, and will prosecute those that meet the legal elements of a criminal offense.”

>>Photos: Lit in the colors of the French flag

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