The Rev. Jesse Jackson called for a "major mass nonviolent demonstration" to resist the state of Michigan's appointment of an emergency financial manager in Detroit, reported WXYZ-TV.
He made his call for action at a rally on Friday held at Detroit's Coleman A. Young Municipal Center, accompanied by citizens who plan to challenge the legality of the emergency manager law, Public Act 436, in court this coming week, according to the Detroit Free Press.
"Centered around the filing will be protests and civil disobedience," Jackson said in a WXYZ video. "I certainly agree that we need and we seek federal intervention, but we must make our federal government do what they are supposed to do on our behalf."
PA 436 is a revised version of Public Act 4, a controversial law that gave sweeping powers to officials appointed by the state of Michigan to manage financially-distressed school systems and cities. The earlier law was rejected by a majority of Michigan voters in a referendum last November, but state legislators afterwards approved a slightly altered act that can't be challenged by a ballot initiative.
Earlier this month, the state of Michigan appointed Kevyn Orr, a former partner in the Jones Day law firm with a background in corporate restructuring, as Detroit's new Emergency Financial Manager. When PA 436 takes effect on March 28, Orr will become an emergency manager (EM) with expanded powers, including the ability to revise contracts and sell off city assets.
Detroit Councilwoman JoAnn Watson and Congressman John Conyers (D-Detroit) were also on hand at the protest. Conyers along with fellow Metro Detroit Congressman Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp) have called for a nonpartisan investigation of the state's application of emergency manager laws.
Jackson has long been a critic of Michigan's EM laws. In December 2011, he spoke out with members of the Occupy movement against the legislation at a rally at Detroit's Bethany Baptist Church.
"If this were Mississippi or Alabama that were doing this, there would be a different kind of national outcry, because it is so boldly anti-democratic," he told The Huffington Post.
Rev. Jackson, a former Democratic presidential candidate, recently called for more federal gun legislation, including background checks at gun shows and regulating the sale of bullets and magazines for semi-automatic and assault weapons. He was arrested in December, along with workers at a Sensata Technologies plant owned by Bain Capital, after protesting 170 jobs that will be moved from the Freeport, Ill. plant to China.
Even before Jackson came to town, local protesters have taken to the streets -- and even the freeways -- to voice their opposition to the EM law. Convoys of vehicles, passengers armed with banners and bullhorns, have slowed highway traffic in the city at least five times since Snyder announced he was appointing an emergency manager in Detroit. They have also picketed the governor's Detroit office at Cadillac Place. Demonstrators have said they may form a human chain around Orr's new office to block the EFM from arriving to work.
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