John Bennett is a contributing writer to WND. His work has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Townhall.com, American Thinker, Human Events, New English Review, Accuracy in Media, and FrontPage Magazine. With tours of duty in Iraq, Afghanistan and Djibouti as a former Army officer, he holds an M.A. from the University of Chicago and a J.D. from Emory University School of Law..More ↓Less ↑
The official state takeover of Detroit is only newly accomplished, and there are signs that there soon will be unrest, or worse.
At a rally last Friday, Rev. Jackson called on Detroiters to engage in “mass, nonviolent protest” in the city to fend off what he called an attack on residents’ voting rights, local news reported.
“As opposed to having a city council that’s democratically elected and a mayor, you’ll have a plantocracy, a plantation-ocracy, replacing a democracy,” Rev. Jesse Jackson said.
Other threats are being issued in the city council, with increasing specificity. Detroit councilman Kwame Kenyatta recently told the group, “Even the Bloods in the hood fight for their territory” – evidently a comparison to the violent street gang.
Such positive invocations for violent gang behavior by public officials are infrequent. However, the unique culture of Detroit leaders and community activists represents an exception. When talk of a state takeover became serious, a number of local leaders began to make threats, some veiled, some open.
Marie Thornton, a former Detroit Public School Board member vowed, “I won’t give up my right to vote. We are going to shut down freeways and we are going to disrupt the economic system.”
Detroit Minister Malik Shabazz recently warned during a public hearing, “This is white supremacy. Before you can take over our city, we will burn it.”
A critic of those sentiments, Detroit columnist Frank Beckmann, has warned of the “potential for open civil unrest.”
Racial resentment stoked by public figures, according to some researchers, contributed to the violent rioting in Detroit during the 1960s. The late political scientist Edward Banfield, in his classic study of lower-class culture, “The Unheavenly City” offered a list of factors that caused urban rioting in the 1960s. One factor was “a barrage of statements by leaders of both races” that urban problems were “entirely, or almost entirely, the result of racial prejudice, implying that only white racism” was to blame for those problems.
Incendiary racial rhetoric exacerbated existing problems, and even concocted new problems.
“It is bad enough to suffer real prejudice,” Banfield wrote, “without having to suffer imaginary prejudice as well.”
While talk of the state takeover of the financially destitute city has led to accusations of racism and threats to “burn” the city before allowing it to be taken over, Detroit’s emergency manager firmly rejects those claims.
Kevin Orr, the successful black bankruptcy attorney selected to serve as emergency manager, said that the takeover power arises from “a law enacted by the legislature.”
This law gives the governor authority to appoint a manager, and states that “municipalities, including the city of Detroit, are subdivisions of state government.”
Therefore, “by constitutional law, they exist as a creature of state government and the ultimate chief executive for the state is the governor” who is an elected official. Thus, “any notion that somehow it’s a deprivation of voting rights is inaccurate.”
Nonetheless, some leaders continue to evoke the imagery of bloodshed.
“We marched too long and bled too much and died too young for the right to vote to have a governor … take away the impact of our vote,” said Jackson.
Those words echo the language used recently by the top NAACP official in Georgia.
“We’ve fought too hard and bled too long to allow our officials to be removed by a dictator,” claimed the head of the Georgia NAACP, arguing against the removal of an inept group of six DeKalb County school board members, five of whom are black.
The state takeover in Detroit is seeking to prevent what would be the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.
WND previously reported how JoAnn Watson” has become the public voice of Detroiters determined to hang on to self-rule.
Some may recognize Watson as the councilwoman who called upon Barack Obama to bail out Detroit, saying, “Our people in an overwhelming way supported the re-election of this president and there ought to be a quid pro quo and you ought to exercise leadership on that.”