A neighborhood on the South East Side of Grand Rapids is outraged. They say several local gas stations and convenience stores are being far from convenient. Michigan law requires that any store that charges a deposit for cans or bottles must exchange those bottles for cash when they are returned but some community members say some stores in their neighborhood are breaking that law and stealing from them.
Neighbors have been filing in and out of the South East Block Club on Franklin Street for the past couple of weeks as members of 'The African People of Love' collect complaints to be sent to the State of Michigan. The neighbors say stores like Fanny's Corner on Eastern Street have been denying customers cash back for their bottle returns, instead offering store credit only. The group says their rights are being violated, so they've been protesting.
"Why should they have to worry when they go to a store within their community, if that store is misusing them. if it wasn't for the people in the community, that store wouldn't be successful," said Eliyah X with The African People of Love.
Commissioner White has been leading this effort says the low income community is being taken advantage of, and that this issue will require state action.White heads to Lansing on Thursday for a hearing. He'll testify on behalf of the neighborhood in front of the House Committee of Investigations, hoping he'll come back with some answers.
"The question that people have to recognize, is that we are not powerless, we are not powerless, and once we get that through our minds, then all of these things become possible," said Commissioner Jim White.
White says the fine for stores violating bottle returns could be as much as a thousand dollars. Some of the neighbors say the fine should be increased, but most just want the money returned back into the community in some form or another.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times