Detroit Mayor Bing walks out on raucous community meeting - New York News

Tempers flare after Mayor Bing walks out on raucous community meeting

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Bernice Smith spoke her mind to a fired up crowd Thursday night. Bernice Smith spoke her mind to a fired up crowd Thursday night.
DETROIT (WJBK) -

Another explosive citywide meeting had Detroit Mayor Dave Bing walking out early. But the real fireworks started after he left.

"I love Midtown. Good city," said Bernice Smith. The woman, better known in the community as 'Mother Bernice' was determined to be heard during the meeting Thursday at Martin Luther King Jr. High School that was supposed to be about the city's bus system. "I thought since we were down in a little area, nice school and so forth, that we would really be able to communicate with the mayor and his staff."

But that didn't happen because recent community meetings have turned into vocal protests over city cuts. "This is the only venue the police officers have an avenue to speak to the mayor," said Officer Walter Higgins. "And they are very upset."

But Thursday night, Bing and his staff weren't in the mood for outbursts. "We've got people out in this audience who go to every community meeting and they just shout and they're disruptive and disrespectful," said Bing, who ended the meeting early after the crowd refused to settle down.

After Bing walked out, it was Smith who stepped up. "Why are you acting ignorant?" Smith yelled to the crowd. "I want to fight for your rights too." Members of the crowd didn't take kindly to her words and argued back with Smith. "She's frustrated and so are the police officers. And when that happens and you have a mayor that walks out of the meeting because he's interrupted, people's tensions flare," said Higgins.

Outside, Smith and officers continued to speak and found a common ground. "She's one of the few that step up to assist the police department and she does back us," said Higgins.

Smith said she was disappointed that Bing left because she didn't get a chance to speak her mind. "I wanted to tell him to get out here amongst the people and let the people know that he cares about them," said Smith.

Bing's staff says upcoming community meetings are still on tap, but he is frustrated with the outbursts. "I don't know if it can be fixed," said Bing. "We don't control people's emotions.

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