Quicken Loans founder: We "screwed up" on Detroit display sign

Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert is apologizing after a real estate firm he owns erected a racially insensitive sign in downtown Detroit, causing an uproar over social media.

The advertisement, which was installed on the first floor of a building managed by property developer Bedrock, said "See Detroit Like We Do" while using an image that showed a predominantly white crowd. Detroit's population is 83 percent black and 11 percent white, 2010 U.S. Census data show.

In a Facebook post, Gilbert admitted the company "screwed up badly" in making the sign, which has been removed.

"Although not intended to create the kind of feelings it did, the slogan/statement we used on these graphics was tone deaf, in poor taste and does not reflect a single value or philosophy that we stand for at Bedrock Development or in our entire Family of companies," he wrote.

The sign was posted on the Vinton Building, a residential high-rise Bedrock is developing, during the weekend of the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Detroit riots. The sign was taken down on Saturday. 

Bedrock, a commercial real estate firm, owns more than 90 buildings in Detroit, which is also home to Quicken.

Gilbert, a billionaire who also owns the Cleveland Cavaliers, drew fire for the ad, including on social media. 

"Detroit is home to the largest African-American population in the country, and the city is home to concentrated neighborhoods of indigenous African American communities that are not only being pushed out of the city, but seemingly intentionally left out of the new vision for Detroit," Khaled Beyoun, associate professor of law at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, said by email. "The Bedrock ad vividly and brutally illustrates what has been taking place on the ground in the city for years, particularly in downtown, Cass Corridor and other sections of the city that have been rapidly remade without tending to the needs, interests and humanity of black families." 

In 2013, Detroit became the largest U.S. city ever to declare bankruptcy after years of losing factory jobs and what some critics say was fiscal mismanagement. Since then, city officials have been accused of fostering rapid gentrification at the expense of lower-income residents.   

Gilbert said the image displayed on the building was only one element in a larger ad installation. "The graphic that was completed Friday was unfortunately, not diverse or inclusive when looked at by itself," he wrote, noting that the remaining graphics were to be installed this week. 

Despite those plans, the ad campaign has been suspended.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report

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