FLINT, MI — With tape over their mouths, members of the Democracy Defense League, held a silent protest in the Lobby of the Flint City Hall to challenge yet another assault on any semblance of democracy in the city of Flint.
The issue at hand is a new “order”/“edict” issued by Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley. It limits public comments to just three minutes at City Council meetings. Furthermore, these comments must be reserved for the end of the meetings.
The order was meant to derail any attempts to protests and public outcries against the Emergency Managers “7 point plan” to put Flint on the path to “fiscal solvency” and “return democracy” to the city. The new rule only enraged the community and underscored the inability of the Flint City Council to set their own council meeting agenda.
Emergency Managers, under Michigan’s PA 436 are dispatched around the state to municipalities and school districts supposedly to put their financial houses in order. However, their superpowers allow them to not only replace local elected officials, but to revise and dismantle union contracts, sell public assets, and even dissolve the municipality or school district. The unelected “manager” may carry these out without a vote of the people or its elected representative and can only be removed by the Governor.
With every new and draconian order issued, be it raising water rates, gutting police and fire services or selling precious public assets, Flint residents are growing enraged and aware as the Emergency Manager shows himself for the corporate shield that he is, led by Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder. Meanwhile, Emergency Mangers establish a culture of fascism even after they leave, as demonstrated by the recent arrest and charges against Reverend Pinkney of Benton Harbor. (See cover story of this paper on Page 3.)
The Flint City Council meeting held several days after the “Silent Protest,” was met with jeers and chants of “Democracy Now” and “Dictatorship” by an irate public, which included embattled city retirees whose healthcare is threatened by a previous Emergency Manager order and are now in federal court to salvage it.
The battle unfolding in Flint and around the state of Michigan is one like we have never seen but it ‘s one we can and must win.