Detroiter lays down at council meeting to avoid being ejected

A Detroiter protesting a proposal for a large-scale farm laid down on the floor of council chambers this morning as police tried to remove her during a raucous session that is expected to continue through the afternoon.

Marie Thornton was speaking beyond her one-minute public comment period when she demanded that council President Charles Pugh apologize for once accusing her of tossing a grape at a school board member.

After Pugh refused, calling her “disgraceful,” he ordered the woman be removed from the chambers for refusing to be quiet.

“There have been many a incident with your name on it that are disgraceful to the city,” Pugh said.

Thornton fired back that Pugh was “disgraceful.”

As police circled her, Thornton sprawled out on the floor, causing gasps among the large crowd.

Pugh temporarily postponed the meeting and eventually asked police to let the woman alone.

“We don’t need a scene,” Pugh said.

At issue is Mayor Dave Bing’s proposal to sell about 140 acres of land on the east side for about $520,000. Many residents are opposed, saying it’s a land grab and a virtual giveaway.

Some Detroiters, however, believe something more sinister is at play, saying the proposal amounts to slavery and more white oppression. Another resident compared it to rape.

“We have enough treess,” one resident said.
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Many residents were barred from entering the meeting today because Pugh continues to refuse to move the meetings to the adjacent, much larger auditorium.

“We are fired up and mad, ” Sandra Hines told the council. “We aren’t going away.”

One man was wearing a U.S. flag like a cape.

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.

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