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Civil disobedience possible to fight emergency law

December 22, 2011
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DETROIT—The Rev. Jesse Jackson and U.S. Rep. John Conyers joined religious and civil rights leaders Thursday to promise protests and possible civil disobedience against Michigan's new emergency manager law that could lead to a takeover of Detroit government.

"We are prepared to go from education, mobilization, litigation, legislation, demonstration and civil disobedience," Jackson said as he and others held a news conference at Detroit's Bethany Baptist Church.

"We want a positive commitment to restoring democracy and economic justice for all citizens." Jackson said.

Hours later, Gov. Rick Snyder posted a video on a "Rick Snyder For Michigan" Facebook page in which he called on Mayor Dave Bing and the Detroit City Council to "partner together" and come up with their own financial rescue plan so Michigan can stay out of the city's business.

The Detroit Public Schools and the cities of Flint, Pontiac and Benton Harbor already have state-appointed emergency financial managers. Michigan recently enacted a law expanding the state's power to push aside local government and school officials whose agencies get in financial trouble.

Conyers said the expanded law is "seriously flawed" and said it unfairly targets communities with large numbers of minority group members.

Jackson, a Chicago-based activist, said emergency managers are like dictators with the power to override local democracy, discard union contracts and cut vital public services. He said he is seeking U.S. Justice Department intervention.

The state is evaluating whether Detroit's financial problems merit the naming of an emergency manager. Bing and the City Council have opposed a state takeover of Detroit and are working on budget-balancing measures.

"The city should be responsible for the city," Snyder said in his video release. "Our role is to be a supporting resource."

The governor then highlighted what he said was the seriousness of the city's money problems, citing Bing's statement that Detroit could run use up its available cash in April.

"We can't let the city run out of money," Snyder said. Besides Detroit's cash-flow problem is a long-term structural deficit that needs a fundamental solution, he said.

"Detroit's been in a financial crisis of some kind for decades," the governor said.

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Online:

Governor's video statement: http://on.fb.me/sFrZW0

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