Michigan cops arrested six people at a town hall meeting centered around the water system in Flint, where cost-cutting measures led to drinking water tainted with lead and other dangerous toxins, according to MLive.
Flint police say they were charged for disorderly conduct because they refused to remove their hats during the town hall meeting.
Two videos posted on Twitter and embedded below show one man wearing a cap being arrested who is not cursing while another woman with a ski cap records. A second video shows that woman being arrested.
Flint Police Chief Tim Johnson spoke to more than 100 people gathered at the House of Prayer Missionary Baptist Church for a town hall meeting, asking people to remove their hats and warned people attending to respect and not disrupt the meeting.
Flint Police Chief Tim Johnson
“I just want to make sure this meeting goes off the way it’s supposed to and that everybody’s respecting everyone,” Johnson said.
“Please don’t be in here trying to disrupt this meeting, because if you do, I’m going to escort you out and I’m only going to take you to the back door and then you’re going to jail. I’m not going to play with nobody tonight.”
Flint officers also prevented men wearing hats from entering the church unless they removed them. Men who refused to remove their hats were told to leave, which led to arguments between residents in Flint and police.
Residents who used profanity inside the church were also escorted out of the meeting.
“There’s a couple people that’s arrested,” Johnson told reporters.
“There’s a couple people cussing in the church, disorderly conduct.”
Many in attendance questioned why the town hall meeting was held at a church where Mayor Karen Weaver, city, state and federal officials addressed concerns of local residents.
Chief Johnson said he thought some people attended the meeting just to cause trouble.
“I guess they felt like they can do it anyway,” he said. “That’s what they’re here for is to be agitators.”
Thursday’s meeting is the only event scheduled where the public was permitted to ask about Flint’s future water source.
The city stated residents have until May 20 to share their thoughts on the matter and Mayor Weaver’s recommendation that the city continue to buy pre-treated water for the next 30 years from the Great Lakes Water Authority.
Last October, former Flint Public Information Officer Capt. Leigh Golden filed a lawsuit in Genessee Circuit Court alleging she was discriminated against because she is a woman, was transferred from her patrol position, verbally abused and retaliated against when she was transferred out of her position for reporting illegal activity.
Former Police Captain Leigh Golden
The lawsuit doesn’t specify what laws or regulations were violated and doesn’t say which government entity Golden participated with in the investigation, although it does say Chief Johnson and the city were angered by Capt. Golden’s participation.
The lawsuit also claims Chief Johnson attempted to eliminate Golden’s position in August and September, but didn’t follow through with his plan when he learned Golden would be demoted to lieutenant rather than get fired.
Golden, who worked for the Flint Police Department for 20 years, claims Chief Johnson’s actions violated the Michigan Whistleblower Protection Act and the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.
In November 2015, Flint residents filed a lawsuit claiming Governor Snyder along with 14 state and city officials knowing exposed Flint residents to toxic water.
In January 2016, Governor Snyder announced an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in Flint between June 2014 and November 2015, according to CNN, with 87 cases resulting in 10 deaths.
In September 2015, Virginia Tech recommended the state declare the water is not safe for drinking or cooking and concluded Flint water was 19 times more corrosive that Detroit’s drinking water.
In December 2016, four officials including two of Flint’s former emergency managers who reported to the governor and water plant officials were charged with felonies of false pretenses and conspiracy after being accused by authorities for misleading the Michigan Department of Treasury into getting millions in bonds then misuing the money to finance construction of a new pipeline, forcing Flint’s drinking water be sourced from the Flint River.
Flint, Michigan’s population is 98,310 and is located 70 miles north of Detroit where 41 percent of residents live below the poverty line.
Flint’s median household income is $24,862, according to the US Census Bureau compared to the median household income for the rest of Michigan, which is $49,576.
Flint’s racial demographics consist of mostly African-Americans who comprise 57 percent of the city’s population.