Calls Grow for Michigan Mayor to Resign After Saying He Could See How Someone Becomes a White Supremacist

Illustration for article titled Calls Grow for Michigan Mayor to Resign After Saying He Could See How Someone Becomes a White Supremacist

Photo: SETH HERALD (Getty Images)

In Harper Woods, Mich., protests have been ongoing since the death of Priscilla Slater, a Black woman, while in police custody in June. The town’s longtime mayor is now facing growing calls to resign because of comments he made sympathizing with white supremacists after his wife got into an altercation with protesters.


The Detroit Free Press reports that Harper Woods City Manager John Szymanski added his voice to those requesting that Mayor Kenneth Poynter resign. Szymanski noted Poynter’s 23 years of service, saying he “has given decades of his life to the people of the City of Harper Woods,” but added that, “Recent comments by Mayor Poynter, however, do not reflect the values or beliefs of the administration or residents of the City of Harper Woods. As such, I have personally asked Mayor Poynter to immediately resign from office in order that we can move forward and work on maintaining and improving the quality of life for those who live and visit the City of Harper Woods.”

Harper Woods has been the site of ongoing protests over the death of Slater, a 38-year-old woman who was found dead in her holding cell only 12 hours after being arrested back in June. Slater was arrested in connection to a shooting at a hotel. During a vigil held shortly after Slater’s death, Poynter’s wife was confronted by a protester, and in response, she ripped up the sign they were holding. As a result, a protest was held outside of Poynter’s home.


During a July 21 community meeting, Poynter shocked those in attendance when he said that recent events have made him understand how someone could become a white supremacist, the Free Press reports. Activists Will Smith and Jaye Hill, who were present at the meeting, were the first to call for Poynter to resign. Hill said he feels that Poynter’s “mask was really taken off,” as a result of the comments. Multiple city officials confronted Poynter on the comments and he eventually gave an apology days later.

White people are just really showing their asses, y’all.

If all it takes is a minor confrontation and a bit of criticism for you to go, “Ya know, maybe the KKK is onto something,” you’ve got some deeper issues in need of addressing. Considering the current moment we’re in, the violent history of white supremacy and the fact that people were mad that yet another Black woman has died in police custody, the absolute least you could do is not sympathize with white supremacy. If Poynter felt it was appropriate to fix his mouth and say that, then clearly he shouldn’t be mayor of a city where 58 percent of its population is Black. 

Slater’s death is still under investigation by Michigan State Police, and so far, six public safety officials have been placed on leave as a result. Slater’s cause of death has yet to be revealed.