Warren City Councilman Eddie Kabacinski, far left, said he attended a Sept. 19 demonstration, organized as a “March Against Racism,” to show his support for law enforcement and President Donald Trump.

Warren City Councilman Eddie Kabacinski, far left, said he attended a Sept. 19 demonstration, organized as a “March Against Racism,” to show his support for law enforcement and President Donald Trump.

Photo by Patricia O'Blenes


Warren City Council weighs fallout from dueling demonstrations

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published September 24, 2020

 Kabacinski alleged that the pole of his red Donald Trump flag was broken during an exchange that began when demonstrators crossed Hoover Road and approached the group he was with on private property.

Kabacinski alleged that the pole of his red Donald Trump flag was broken during an exchange that began when demonstrators crossed Hoover Road and approached the group he was with on private property.

Photo by Patricia O'Blenes

 There were some skirmishes at the event.

There were some skirmishes at the event.

Photo by Patricia O'Blenes

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“I feel that people have the right to do what they want to do. They can have their opinion. They can stay the course of action, and if the council chooses to take that action then that’s up to a majority of council. I stand by what I said. I’m going to be

Eddie Kabacinski , Warren City Councilman

WARREN — Warren City Councilman Eddie Kabacinski stood with a group of people he said turned out to “back the blue” in support of law enforcement, across the street from where a crowd had assembled for a Saturday afternoon march against racism.

He had a holstered handgun on his hip, wore military gear and held a red “Make America Great Again” flag during what police said was a minor clash between the two competing groups of demonstrators.

Kabacinski was well within his legal right under state and federal laws to openly carry a weapon and to demonstrate his support for the police and President Donald Trump at the Sept. 19 event. But several people, including some who live in the city’s District 5 that Kabacinski was elected last November to represent, later addressed the Warren City Council during its virtual meeting held by Zoom video and took issue with Kabacinski’s presence at the rally, and particularly with the stance he took.

The march was organized in the wake of a string of alleged hate crimes at the private residence of a Black family in the subdivision behind the Hoover Eleven Shopping Center, where the demonstrators gathered. Warren police said the crimes at the home of Eddie and Candace Hall included shots fired, racist graffiti and property damage. The incidents took place on three separate nights over a span of four days in September.

Kabacinski didn’t mince words when he spoke about the protest during the meeting’s public announcements segment. He said the protest’s organizers, the South Warren Alliance for Radical Movement (SWARM) and Detroit Will Breathe, had “invaded District 5 with a so-called quote March Against Racism.”

“They had signs and wore shirts saying F the police and kill the police. They want to defund the police and make allowances for killing law enforcement officers,” Kabacinski said. “This group of so-called peaceful protestors impeded traffic on Hoover Road. They went across the roadway to commit multiple counts of felonious assault upon those of us in support of law enforcement and President Trump.”

Kabacinski told council members that Trump and U.S. Attorney General William Barr had labeled “ANTIFA” and “Black Lives Matter” as domestic terrorist organizations.

After the meeting, Kabacinski doubled down on his claim that the Sept. 19 demonstration was part of an orchestrated national effort and said that he believed the recent hate crimes investigated by Warren police may have been committed by “outside agitators.”

Resident Gary Jury spoke during the council’s audience participation segment and said Kabacinski’s actions were “beyond disgusting.”

“I’m disgusted with him, and I think he’ll hear from a large number of his constituents tonight that are equally as disturbed as I am by his actions on Saturday and his inactions,” Jury said.

Several speakers called on council members to admonish Kabacinski for his words at the meeting and his actions at the demonstration.

Among those calling for Kabacinski to be censured by his peers was Joel Rutherford, chair of the Official Democratic Black Caucus of Macomb County.

“How can he possibly be representing everybody in his district when he takes that kind of stand? Because to me, he was not only on the wrong side of the road, he’s on the wrong side of history,” Rutherford said.

He added, “You have the freedom of speech. You have the freedom of assembly. But when you take those kinds of actions, what you’re basically saying is, yeah, you’re against anti-racism. Because that means to me, that’s what you’re supporting, is racism and bigotry in Warren, and that’s something I think this city needs to move on from.”

Resident Bridget Quinn told the council she lives in District 5 and that SWARM organized the march after what happened at the Hall family home.

The Halls had a “Black Lives Matter” sign in their front window when it was shot at. A brick was also thrown through the window, tires were slashed and vehicles were vandalized with racist graffiti and profane messages.

The Warren Police Department later announced the arrest of a local man following its investigation into the crimes at the Hall family’s home, and one other location, where graffiti was sprayed on the garage door at a home where political signs of Democratic candidates were reportedly displayed.

“Fed up with these ongoing acts of terror, several local residents organized a group called the South Warren Alliance for Radical Movement, which created an alliance with Detroit Will Breathe and Michigan Liberation. Together, we quickly developed plans for a rally to show the Halls and other Black residents of Warren that we support them and that we will not tolerate the ongoing acts of racist violence and intimidation they are facing,” Quinn said. “The account that Eddie Kabacinski shared during this meeting was completely riddled with false statements. None of the protestors committed assaults. In fact, the opposite was true.”

She added, “Eddie, rather than expressing concern about the safety and well-being of Warren’s Black residents, you, a City Council member, was marching in opposition to the rally in support of Black residents’ right to safety and peace. Your actions have made it clear to a huge portion of your constituents that you do not care about their safety.”

Several people also spoke in Kabacinski’s defense.

Darlene Doetzel thanked him for his actions at the demonstration.

“If it wasn’t for Eddie, we would not have gotten out safely,” Doetzel said. “Eddie got the five of us out of there safely when the police officers left us and there was nobody. The only person that raised a weapon was from the other side, Black Lives Matter side, onto us. Let’s get that straight right now.”

Another woman acknowledged Kabacinski for supporting both law enforcement and the group of like-minded demonstrators that she claimed “were not protected” by Warren police.

Kabacinski later said he had no evidence that Warren police and the city’s Citizens Emergency Response Team (CERT) were ordered to “stand down” by Warren Mayor Jim Fouts or Police Commissioner Bill Dwyer.

“At the point that the unruly protestors left their area and started to impede traffic on Hoover Road, endangering the lives of the drivers and also those of us that were on the other side on a piece of privately owned property, yes. That is the point that the Police Department should have moved in and, like I said, apprehended, detained and arrested these individuals and shut this down,” Kabacinski said.

Dwyer has praised the response of his officers and said the department’s efforts were aimed at ensuring that lives and property were protected and that the right to peaceful demonstration was maintained. The commissioner said no arrests were made, no property was damaged and that only minor incidents were reported.

City Council President Pat Green confirmed on Sept. 23 that the council had received several requests calling for Kabacinski to be censured for his actions at the demonstration and his words at the meeting. It remained unclear whether a mechanism for council to censure one of its own members existed in its bylaws or rules of order — and what such a rebuke would mean. If an action is to be taken, Green said it would likely occur at the City Council’s next regular meeting on Oct. 13.

“I feel that people have the right to do what they want to do. They can have their opinion. They can stay the course of action, and if the council chooses to take that action, then that’s up to a majority of council,” Kabacinski said on Sept. 23. “I stand by what I said. I’m going to be unwavering in that.”

He refuted statements that he doesn’t support the Halls and other Black residents or that he stood in opposition to a demonstration against racism. He alleged that the demonstrators present at the march who later walked through the neighborhood had a different agenda.

“The majority of the people that were there, it was not that at all,” Kabacinski said. “It was about intimidation.”

The Warren City Council collectively issued a statement on Sept. 10 expressing concern over “the destructive crimes committed against the Hall family.”

“The Warren City Council wishes to condemn these acts of intimidation, destruction and violence. We offer our heartfelt sympathies to the Hall family and pledge our full support to the Warren Police Department in their efforts to bring those responsible to justice,” the statement said.

You can watch the entire video of the Warren City Council’s Sept. 22 meeting at www.cityofwarren.org/government/city-council.

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