Bullying and threats add tension to Flint city council meetings
The Flint City Council is scheduled to meet Monday night, amid concerns about bullying and threats.
The bullying often comes from city council members themselves, exchanging racial epithets and obscenities during meetings. Members of the general public attending council meetings are also aggressive voicing their own complaints directed at specific council members and each other.
On Friday, Flint police were looking for a man who allegedly assaulted a woman at a recent city council meeting.
Second Ward Councilwoman Ladel Lewis says she wants to make the Flint city council chamber a “bully-free zone.”
But Lewis wants more.
She and other council members say they are receiving an increasing number of credible threats of physical violence from the public.
A recent threat prompted Lewis to skip council meetings last week.
Lewis says Flint city hall needs to be a "gun-free zone.”
“I understand people say that they say they have the right to carry … but we have the right to do our job,” said Lewis.
Last week, Mayor Sheldon Neeley had a metal detector installed outside the city council chamber. But the Flint Police Department said it would not stop a licensed gun owner from carrying a weapon into the chamber. At a meeting Wednesday, an individual sat in the audience, carrying an assault-style weapon.
Mayor Neeley says threats and intimidation directed at city officials will not be tolerated.
“When we talked about armed individuals that are making threats through social media and other ways, or being present with firearms, it’s a danger,” Neeley told reporters.
Despite the mayor’s assurances, councilwomen Lewis on Friday would not commit to attending Monday night’s council meeting.