Reporting Vickie Thomas
DETROIT (WWJ) - The number of people calling for Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr to step down after making some controversial comments continues to grow.
Congressman John Conyers on Thursday joined with local NAACP President Rev. Wendell Anthony and over two dozen others to demand the EM apologize to citizens and then resign his position of power in the city.
This comes after, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, the state-appointed city leader characterized Detroiters as “dumb, lazy, happy and rich.”
Detroit political consultant Greg Bowens — an ex-journalist and press secretary to former Mayor Dennis Archer — told WWJ City Beat Reporter Vickie Thomas Orr’s comments have “become legend.”
“And he has allowed himself to be shaped as the black person who doesn’t care about black people,” said Bowens, who also takes issue with a statement in the Wall Street Journal that Orr regularly lunches at a local Popeyes restaurant.
“Nobody in this Popeyes Chicken at Warren and Conner has seen an emergency manager,” Bowens said. “You can ask them; they’ll say, ‘Who? What’s that?’
“But, at the same time. there’s symbolism even associated with that: Chicken eatin’, watermelon eatin’, black people, you know…” said Bowens. “So, if you had any kind of sensitivity, Mr. Orr, about who we are as African-Americans, and the stereotypes that exist out there about us — you might not wanna say, ‘I eat fried chicken like the rest of the black people do.’”
An Orr spokesman, earlier this week, said the EM had been referring to Detroit’s politicians — not its citizens — when he made those controversial comments to the Journal.
Meantime, Sara Wurfel with Gov. Rick Snyder’s office, says the governor has spoken with Orr and believes and accepts he did not mean what was inferred from his words.
Orr, with Snyder’s approval, last month filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection on behalf of the city. He estimates the city’s long-term debt at $18 billion.