WARREN (WWJ) - The mayor of Warren says his city is ready for a visit by a former White House senior adviser Steve Bannon to the Detroit suburb.
Media executive and political activist Steve Bannon — who in August left his as a Chief Strategist for President Donald Trump, and now heads up far-right news, opinion and commentary website Breitbart — is set to speak at a Macomb County Republican Unity Dinner at Andiamo Wednesday evening.
"Under the direction of Warren Police Commissioner Bill Dwyer our police are well prepared for the Steve Bannon visit," Mayor Jim Fouts said. "Police will protect both those in attendance for Mr. Bannon's speech and those who will be protesting that speech."
"This is America and both groups have an equal right under the Constitution," the mayor added. "I'm confident that peace will be maintained and that the protesters will be able to express their views as well as Steve Bannon will be able to speak without disruption. This is what we are all about: free speech and freedom to speak without disruption."
As protesters gathered along 14 Mile Road, Fouts said in a Facebook post police had already set up a command center, and helicopter unit and mounted unit had been deployed.
While Fouts said protest organizers met with police and agreed to abide by the rules, "Rumors persist of a large number of groups converging on the event without police approval. Thus we have taken extraordinary efforts...to ensure the peace."
Robert Fidler, Media Director for the Metro-Detroit Political Action Network, says the group will be on site to protest what they're calling the Macomb County GOP's decision to promote "a blatant white supremacist."
"While serving as Trump's chief strategist, Bannon was the mind behind the administration's most virulently racist policies. The attempted ban of Muslim refugees traveling to the US, and tearing the families apart of people of color through ICE's mass deportation campaign. The latter hitting the Chaldean community of Metro-Detroit especially hard," Fidler said, in a news release. "Additionally, he was reported to be the prominent voice behind Trump's attempt to enact a ban on transgender people serving in the military."
Also planning to protest is a coalition of community members and groups — including CAIR Michigan, the Michigan Muslim Community Council, and the ACLU — interfaith leaders and local and state elected officials that will "stand in unity against hate, xenophobia, and Islamophobia."
"There are those who seek to divide Americans and use hate and the politics of division to do so. In the face of this, it is imperative that we as a people unite, and stand up to all those who perpetuate hate and division," said Hassan Sheikh, Executive Director of Emgage, a non-profit group that worked to organize the demonstration. "Only in true unity will we be able to build a better future for our country."
Macomb GOP Chair Cathy Kirk said she's very happy to see Bannon to join them to celebrate the first anniversary of Trump's "incredible victory."
"And it is fitting that Mr. Bannon would come here, to Macomb County, to mark this occasion since our community provided nearly five times the margin President Trump needed to win Michigan for a Republican Presidential candidate for the first time in 28 years," Kirk said, in a statement. "The hardworking people of Macomb County, particularly our core grassroots activists, strongly support our President and we hope that everyone will join us to celebrate the anniversary his historic victory."
On the other side of the aisle, Michigan Democratic Party Chair Brandon Dillon said it's ironic that Bannon was chosen to speak at "unity dinner."
"Where do the Republican US Senate candidate stand on their party's split? Especially with the open warfare between Bannon and (Senate Majority Leader Mitch) McConnell," Dillon said during a conference call Wednesday. "Candidates like Bob Young, John James and Fred Upton, they need to come clean about what they think about McConnell's leadership and Bannon's effort to purge and reshape the Republican party in a more extreme and divisive image."
Asked why Bannon was the right choice for a unity dinner, Macomb County GOP spokesman Jamie Roe, again pointed to the county's "huge role" in electing Trump.
"The difference between us and the Democrats is that we understand Macomb County," Roe said, "and what we're talking about here is the Macomb County Republicans' unity in support of President Donald Trump."
Roe said Bannon, having served at CEO of the Trump campaign, is a member of Trump's inner circle and they're excited to hear his message.
WWJ's Jon Hewett will be on hand for Bannon's visit. Stay tuned to AM-950 for more.
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