Lawsuit: Council President Pugh, police bullied elderly man

The meeting room where Detroit City Council members make decisions every week is so small that residents are wedged into a tiny seating area – if they’re lucky.

Many are locked out with no chance to speak to their elected leaders about cuts to police, public lighting and other services.

For those who dare speak out, they’re often cut off, patronized or shoed away by the increasingly unpredictable Council President Charles Pugh.

A lawsuit filed against Pugh and two police officers this week sheds more light on the unchecked power exerted by a council president who has become intolerant to dissent. The lawsuit alleges 71-year-old Tyrone Travis suffered neck and back injuries when Pugh ordered police to eject him from a crowded meeting room. Pugh demanded his removal and called him a “fool” after the man spoke beyond his 90-second limit; police tossed out the frail Travis like a rag doll.

Two years ago, I ended up in an emergency room when police at a council meeting threw me against a wall, slammed my fingers in a door and called me a “piece of shit.” I was among dozens of residents locked out of one of the most important meetings of the year, and beefed-up police overreacted when I challenged the legality of the meeting.

Luckily there are courageous Detroiters like Travis to hold the council president and his crony police accountable for their actions.

Unfortunately it’s going to come at the expense of taxpayers who can’t find a break from the stupid decisions of their elected leaders.

Want to contact Pugh? His office number is 313-224-4510. His email:

For more information about Pugh, check out our profile of the City Council president.

Photo above: Travis speaks during the meeting before being removed. Courtesy of city of Detroit. 

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.