Flint, Michigan City Council heats up over ‘ghetto’ comment

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A city council meeting in Flint, Michigan descended into chaos after a white councilwoman called the actions of the president, who is black, “ghetto” during a six-hour meeting.

The adviser who made the comment, Eva Worthing, later apologized for the comment as a ‘gut reaction’ to what she saw as unfair treatment, but the arguments and racial statements show a history of impassioned rhetoric within the recent history of the Flint City Council. .

The dispute began over whether a council member could change a resolution for public hearings, which some council members said was off the agenda. Council member Eva Worthing said that “a motion is always in order”.

Chair Jerri Winfrey-Carter responded that she did not know why the amendment was proposed in the first place. “Why are we amending this motion? »

“Because we can,” Worthing commented.

“You know what, don’t have fun here, because I will,” Winfrey-Carter replied.

In a recording of the council meeting, Worthing is heard making a hard-to-hear comment over the microphone, but neighboring council member Tonya Burns replied: “Really? That’s a racist term. Don’t say ‘ghetto.’ “

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At the meeting, several council members took offense to Worthing’s statement.

“Briefing point, Madam Chair. I think it’s a personal attack to say ‘go ghetto,'” Burns said.

Eva Worthing
(Eva Worthing Flint City Council 9th ​​Ward)

The meeting veered off course after Winfrey-Carter issued a warning to Worthing, who then asked to appeal the decision – which was backed by another black council member.

Winfrey-Carter attempted to get the meeting back on track. “I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m not here to play. I’m here to be fair. I want to hear from all my colleagues… Everyone is going to get a chance to speak.” She condemned “all the ad libs of Councilwoman Worthing, it’s useless. And to have said what she said was unnecessary…she was out of commission, point blank”,

“First of all, we shouldn’t even be having this discussion,” Worthing replied. The motion should have been seconded, discussed and voted on. “You chose to threaten me in some way so I thought it was inappropriate, Ms. Winfrey-Carter, so if you hadn’t said there wouldn’t have been reaction. When you’re president, you have to be professional and treat everyone the same.” Worthing accused the president of ‘listening to a colleague’ and setting up a ‘one person meeting’.

Councilman Eric Mays intervened with a point of order. The term ghetto, Mays said, “to me it has racial connotations. You may laugh, Mrs. Worthing, but I can come up with safe names for your neighborhood.”

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Worthing replied that Mays himself called her a “wicked woman” and also made reference to her race. Mays continued and explained

“We’re offended that you call us ghetto. Now I’m going to assure you that I’ll look up some words and call you something. I don’t want to call you caravan-nothing, but I will,” Mays said.

“My reputation is that when you go down once, I go down two, three times,” Mays said. “And the sooner the council members find out about this…I’m keeping score.” He added that “character matters, whether you’re black, white, orange, purple, green, Democrat, Republican,” Mays said.

The heated discussion continued, with other council members speaking out against Worthing’s use of the word ghetto.

“I’m offended and appalled, when you talk about ‘ghetto’ and there are seven black people here, that’s a problem,” Burns said. She later said, “We have to be careful, because there is no superiority in any race, we are all equal here.” She also touched on Worthing’s profession as a teacher: “You teach kids and are comfortable with the ‘ghetto’?”

Worthing responded that Burns’ comment amounted to a personal attack, to which Winfrey-Carter said “you’ve been making personal attacks all evening, so let her finish her statement.”

“I’m going to apologize, Madam Chair, that’s not fair,” Worthing said.

Eva Worthing Flint City Council 9th ​​District

Eva Worthing Flint City Council 9th ​​District
(Eva Worthing Flint City Council 9th ​​Ward)

After more heated exchanges, during which Worthing apparently left, Winfrey-Carter restored order. “Stop. That’s enough,” she said, and expressed her desire to continue the meeting.

More speeches began, along with accusations of mistreatment and racial prejudice. In Worthing’s absence, her appeal was dismissed and she received the warning. The meeting lasted a total of six hours.

Worthing later released a statement saying she was sorry for her comment. “It was a knee-jerk reaction. I said, ‘This is the ghetto’ under my breath,” Worthing said on Friday, MLive reported.

In a statement to Fox News, Worthing said that while she apologized, she never apologized for “the trauma that not only me, but the city staff, have gone through over the past 4, last 5+ years”.

“I’ve suffered so much abuse on this board. I’ve never been apologized,” Worthing said, adding that Carter “didn’t call me to apologize for saying ‘ I will do everything for you “.” Worthing accused Burns. to call her a racist, a liar and “counsellor Karen, which I feel is racist towards me,” she said.

“Why is this behavior allowed? It’s a matter of race. The three white women on this new council had their race singled out by Eric Mays. There was no story and there was no had no excuses,” Worthing said.

Racial accusations and heated rhetoric are far from new to the city council. When she was re-elected after running unopposed in November 2021, Worthing said she was disappointed by “the negativity, racism and meanness of the current council”.

“As leaders, we should model the behavior we want to see in our city. And sadly, that hasn’t happened yet in the four years I’ve been on the board,” she said.

Last month, the board voted 6-0 (with some members absent or abstaining) after a 10-hour meeting to remove Mays as chair. “I see that a different treatment is about to happen…Race could be a factor,” Mays said ahead of the vote, MLive reported.

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At the next board meeting two weeks later, Mays was removed in handcuffs after being ruled out of order twice at the April 26 meeting. He insisted his impeachment as president was inappropriate and at one point compared himself to George Floyd, who was killed during an arrest by a Minneapolis police officer who knelt on the neck for almost 8 minutes.

“You’ve politically put your knee on my neck…” Mays told acting chairwoman Allie Herkenroder, MLive reported. “I can barely breathe.”

Burns, in that meeting, said Mays was wasting everyone’s time. “It has nothing to do with the color right now but (everything) to do with your behavior,” Burns said.

Council members Burns, Winfrey-Carter and Burns did not respond to requests for comment.

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