Rev. Al Sharpton and a local chapter of his National Action Network joined in a federal lawsuit on March 28, charging that Michigan's emergency manager law violates the Voting Rights Act. It was sparked by Gov. Rick Scott's appointment of Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr, who began working this week to stabilize the city's serious fiscal problems.
“This is an issue that has national ramifications,” Sharpton said. “If they get away with it here in Michigan, it can be a model across the country that you can suspend elections.”
The lawsuit questions whether Detroit residents' voting rights have been violated by taking power away from the officials they elected and giving it to someone they didn't vote for. It also asks whether the emergency manager law is being unfairly applied based on race, the Detroit Free Press reports.
Other plaintiffs include residents of Detroit, Benton Harbor, Flint and Pontiac and some of their city council members; American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 25; the Detroit Public Schools board; New York’s Center for Constitutional Rights; and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.
"What Gov. Snyder has done is nullify the voters of this city, interposed his own will, something that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke against 50 years ago this year," Sharpton told a group of protesters in front of a federal courthouse Thursday.
The civil rights activist and MSNBC host also has pledged to bring thousands of people to Detroit to protest the law and Orr's appointment.
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