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Flint, MI– A Genesee County judge has granted Flint’s city council president ‘temporary injunctive relief’ from being silenced by her colleagues.
During a special city council meeting on Oct. 18, Council President Kate Fields resumed her duties as chair of the meeting despite being “censored” since late September.
“I’m not going to discuss this injunctive relief that I have been given, and I am chairing this meeting because it is still under litigation,” said Fields during the Oct. 18 special meeting.
On Sept. 28, the council voted 5-2 to keep Fields from speaking in meetings for 30 days, but she would still be allowed to vote.
Fields said that this was an illegal move. She tried to speak in the following meetings but was denied. She issued a statement on Facebook on Oct. 6.
“I have been advised by multiple well-known attorneys regarding the “censure” or “censoring” of the Council President,” she wrote. “They all agreed that this motion to not allow me to Chair Council Meetings and to not allow me to speak is not a LEGAL MOTION.”
On Oct. 15, Fields filed a lawsuit with the Genesee County Circuit Court against the Flint City Council. She requested the court review the council’s decision to silence her for 30 days.
Genesee County Circuit Court Judge Joseph Farah issued an order on Oct. 18 which prevents the council from carrying out their decision until after an 11 a.m. hearing on Oct. 22 regarding the matter.
During the special meeting, Councilman Eric Mays remarked that he believed Fields was treated differently than he was when the council voted to suspend him for 30 days last March.
“Judge Farah has did something kind for Ms. Fields, differently than what the judge did for Councilman Mays,” he said. “I don’t know if race is a factor. Do they come in and rescue white elected officials, and Black officials get punished and removed from their seat for 30 days?”
Mays filed a lawsuit against the city and multiple council members last year, citing incidents of being silenced in meetings. U.S. District Court Judge Bernard A. Friedman ruled, in his case, that the council had “legislative immunity,” which allowed them to decide to expel their members. Now Mays has to pay back the city for legal fees incurred in the lawsuit.
Farah will decide whether to dissolve the injunctive relief that has been temporarily granted to Fields or continue it, at the hearing on Oct. 22.