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Raucous Protesters Interrupt Detroit City Council Meeting

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Les Little with Detroit Chapter, National Action Network, demonstrates outside City Hall on Tuesday. (credit: Stephanie Davis/WWJ)

Les Little with Detroit Chapter, National Action Network, demonstrates outside City Hall on Tuesday. (credit: Stephanie Davis/WWJ)

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DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – It got loud at Detroit City Hall on Tuesday as dozens of protesters upset over a vote on a legal contract shouted, chanted and sang.

The protesters temporarily halted Tuesday’s City Council session before members voted to allow the city to hire Jones Day, a law firm which previously employed emergency manager Kevyn Orr.

Two people were arrested.

Rev. David Bullock, of the Rainbow Push Coalition, said his group was there to urge Detroit’s elected leaders not to join Gov. Rick Snyder in “unethical practices.”

“We believe that there is a conflict of interest between Jones Day representing the city of Detroit and representing Bank of America, Merrill Lynch,” Bullock said.

Temporarily interrupting discussion on the matter, several people kneeled down in the council chambers and held hands, chanting “Whose City, Our City” and singing “We Shall Not be Moved.”

“Today is 50 years since Dr. [Martin Luther] King wrote the letter from Birmingham Jail. And in that spirit, some of our allies and partners began to sing and to stage a direct action moment in response to what we believe is a travesty and a miscarriage of justice,” Bullock said.

At least one protester was physically removed from the room. People were told that anyone who continued to cause a disturbance would be arrested.

Through the din, one man could be heard shouting, “We’re not afraid of the police!”

Steve Neavling of Motor City Muckraker posted this video clip:

Regardless, the council’s decision on the matter was purely advisory, since the state’s emergency manager law gives Orr authority over city contracts.   Orr could have chosen to more forward with the contract regardless.

According to the contract, the Jones Day legal team will be paid $475,000 a month, for six months, helping to restructure the city.

Tuesday’s protest is the latest in a string of actions of civil disobedience by those opposed to the Detroit EM. Other demonstrations included the slowing of traffic on local freeways.

Orr was appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder last month to fix Detroit’s $327 million deficit and more than $14 billion in long-term debt. Detroit is the largest city in the U.S. to come under state oversight.

Catch up: Detroit City Council Considers $475K-A-Month Contract

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