Two-term Detroit City Councilman Kwame Kenyatta, whose fiery rhetoric about race relations has made him a polarizing figure, announced today he’s resigning Friday after boycotting meetings in protest of the emergency manager.
Kenyatta didn’t provide specifics but said the state appointment of EM Kevyn Orr leaves the council with no substantive authority. He’ll not longer receive his annual $74,000-a-year salary, but he is eligible for lifetime retirement benefits.
It’s unclear what changed Keynatta’s attitude since March, when he pledged he wouldn’t leave office without a fight.
“You are going to have to drag me out of here for me to leave,” Kenyatta said at the time.
Kenyatta has been among a bloc of three defiant council members who reject virtually all proposals dealing with the emergency manager or state control, which he has compared to slavery and rape. He has stopped just short of calling for a revolt, and maintains the city is under siege by racist white power mongers who want to control Detroit’s property.
On Monday, we reported that Kenyatta rejected a request to protect a historic building because he wrongly believed black people were denied entry.
The councilman said he’s completed a new book, “For My People.”
On a personal basis, Kenyatta is gentle and respectful. He’s soft-spoken and talks eloquently about racial inequality and Detroit’s long struggle with civil rights. But at council meetings, Kenyatta holds nothing back. He’s warned of a forthcoming uprising because even “Bloods in the hood fight for their territory.”
Kenyatta is among five of nine council members who are not running for re-election.
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.