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Is Detroit Ripe For Civil Unrest?

By Vickie Thomas

Inflammatory remarks made by a Detroit minister have some metro Detroiters worried about possible civil unrest in the city as it deals with a financial crisis that likely will require state intervention.

During a public meeting Monday of the state review team charged with looking at the severity of Detroit's financial woes, Minister Malik Shabazz told the panel its actions and those by Governor Rick Snyder amount to white supremacy and that he would burn the city down before letting the state takeover.

In a media release, Rev. Horace Sheffield, III, head of the Detroit Association of Black Organizations (DABO) puts the simmering debate over what some perceive as a state takeover of its largest city in historical perspective.

(Read the entire statement here)

In an interview with WWJ, Sheffield said he does not condone Shabazz's remarks.  But, he said they should send a powerful message to all stakeholders.  "We have to sit down and have some real conversation about how people really feel.  I think Malik probably understands that there is a smoldering, simmering sentiment in this city that if sparked could certainly ignite the wrong kind of explosion."

Are conditions ripe for such an explosion?  "This is probably the worst I've ever seen it.  People are utterly frustrated … when people make comments that this has been going on for the last 30 years, it ignores the historical context of withdrawal of the middle class, white flight and all kinds of other forms of economic deprivation that has been  visited upon us" said Sheffield.

"I know Malik … and I think what he's saying is that people are so frustrated over things in Detroit that they are prepared to do some uncivil things."  Sheffield adds, "What I'm saying is that we have to find a way to have some conversation that people can hear how people feel and find a way to try to address it."

Critics of state intervention, which could include appointing an emergency manager to oversee Detroit's finances, say it's a voting rights issue because the mayor and city council could be stripped of power and collective bargaining agreements could be wiped out.

RELATED:  Patterson: Detroit A 'Tinderbox' Headed For Unrest, Bankruptcy

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