MUSKEGON COUNTY - Richard Macaulay is a Harley-Davidson lover through and through.
The Muskegon man said he takes pride in his Harley-Davidson Dyna Wide Glide motorcycle, which he keeps in immaculate condition.
Macaulay said he was shocked to receive a letter from the Michigan Secretary of State’s office recently stating that his personalized license plate of seven years had been revoked.
The Secretary of State’s office informed the retired factory worker that a complaint from a Muskegon Heights woman had surfaced, claiming the personalized tag was racially insensitive.
The plate reads: DYNGR.
Tiffany Gilmore filed the complaint last month after seeing the motorcycle and plate in a Walmart parking lot. Gilmore, who is black, believes the plate encouraged racism toward blacks.
Macaulay says the plate, which was renewed every year without objection, was an ode to his love of the Harley-Davidson brand of motorcycles.
He says it’s an abbreviation that blends his two favorite Harleys: The Dyna Wide Glide and the Soft Tail Springer.
His brother-in-law thought it was an abbreviation for “danger.” But, he said, no one ever thought it was racially motivated. Until last month.
After he received the complaint letter, Macaulay said it took him several minutes to figure out what the fuss was about.
“I don’t think that way,” he said. “It took me awhile to figure it out.”
Upon hearing Macaulay’s explanation, as relayed to her by a Chronicle reporter, Gilmore said she still believes it’s racially motivated.
“When you look at the abbreviation and try to put it together, it doesn’t make sense,” she said. “I’m sorry, it just doesn’t.”
Still, she’s glad the state revoked the plate.
“I agree with the lady in one respect, and that is that I don’t know what it’s like to be picked on racially,” Macaulay said. “But she immediately took umbrage without accepting that it could mean something else.”
A story about the state pulling the license plate appeared in Thursday’s edition of The Muskegon Chronicle and generated nearly 100 comments from online readers by late afternoon.
Macaulay said he can’t believe the controversy his license plate has kicked off.
“There are so many other things going on, like the war,” he said. “People have nothing better to do than spend their lives being pissed off.”
Macaulay said he has applied for a new personalized license plate similar to the one that has been recalled. But it lacks the letter “N” so nobody gets confused.
Since his new plate has been approved, it’s considered a closed case, said Secretary of State spokeswoman Kelly Chesney.
“I would like to apologize to this lady for offending her, but that was not my intention,” Macaulay said of Gilmore. “People who know me know that I’m not a racist. But she didn’t really know what the plate meant.
“I didn’t ask for any of this, and I wish it would all just go away.”
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