Fri, Jan 20, 2023 3:15 PM
By Scott McClallen, The Center Square
After being sued for violating the First Amendment, Eastpointe Mayor Monique Owens spent 15 minutes at Tuesday's council meeting airing her grievances against the public.
Owens complained that at a previous meeting, her daughter heard a member of the public criticizing her.
"You can never say the mayor disappointed you,” Owens said. "You all disappoint me. Don't blame the mayor for your city, blame yourselves, because it’s deep-rooted."
At a Sept. 6 meeting, Owens shouted down residents who criticized her during public comment and claimed residents were “assaulting” her.
Residents sued and the city agreed to a stipulated preliminary injunction that prohibits Owens from shouting down criticism and shutting down discussions of topics she doesn't like while the lawsuit proceeds.
Still, Owens this week criticized the public for speaking freely and blamed residents for an increase in crime.
“That’s why the crime comes to this city; because they’re watching how you don’t respect your own mayor or your own police department… How you’re trying to sue your own community,” Owens said. “How you bash your leaders.”
Owens said she is “really bothered” by the things that she continues to see in the community, including public criticism.
“If you can’t respect the people that lead your community, how [do] you expect people to respect your property?” Owens asked.
Owens cited the November lawsuit brought by four residents with help from The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that defends free speech.
Owens said, “I can’t stop no one from speaking up here with foolishness.”
The injunction allows residents to speak freely on topics including Eastpointe’s mayor and City Council, disputes between Eastpointe’s mayor and City Council members, police matters, and other matters of public concern.
“People have been watching us for years and they laughing at us because of you,” Owens said. “And the foolishness that we bring to the city. How you hurt your mayor. How you disrespect her. People watch all that.”
FIRE attorney Conor Fitzpatrick said that Owen’s actions at the Tuesday meeting reflected an ongoing pattern of animosity toward the First Amendment.
“Mayor Owens' constituents have a constitutional right to praise or criticize her as they see fit,” Fitzpatrick said in a statement. “Contrary to Mayor Owens's remarks, members of the public showing up to criticize her - or any elected official - does not reflect a broken system. Rather, it reflects democracy in action."
Owens hasn’t responded to The Center Square's request for comment.