Fake foreclosure notices panic some Detroit residents

Liz Goodwin
The Lookout

A conservative group is refusing to apologize for plastering Detroit homes with phony eviction notices earlier this week in a bid to get out their message of opposition to a proposed bridge project.

"It was meant to startle people," Americans for Prosperity state director Scott Hagerstrom told The Detroit Free Press."We really wanted people to take notice. This is the time that their opinions need to be heard. We wanted people to read it." One of the group's founders is billionaire Koch Industries executive vice President David Koch, and the organization has played a prominent role in organizing tea party and conservative events.

The flyers said "eviction notice" in big block letters and then warned residents that the state of Michigan could take their homes to make way for a new proposed bridge to Canada, the New International Trade Crossing bridge.

Some residents were panicked, though it's unclear how many actually believed the flyer. "I thought they were trying to kick us all out for nothing," resident Juan Ybarra told Fox Detroit.

Republican donor Manuel (Matty) Moroun is lobbying against the proposed bridge because it would siphon traffic and tolls from his privately owned Ambassador bridge that traverses the same span between Detroit and Ontario. Moroun would like a second bridge--but one that he would own.

Moroun's company told the Free Press that it had nothing to do with the fake eviction notices, though Americans for Prosperity's Hagerstrom would not reveal if the group has received money from the bridge company to help fund its anti-public bridge campaign.

It's true that "several" residents of Detroit would lose their homes under eminent domain if the bridge does get built, according to MLive. They would be compensated 125 percent of the homes' value. Democratic State Senator Coleman Young II told Fox Detroit that the people whose homes would be seized if the proposal passes have been told already.

(Ambassador Bridge: Paul Sancya/AP)

CORRECTION: This article earlier mistakenly said the bridge went between Detroit and Ottawa.