Leaders Condemn Patterson Remarks About Detroit ‘Reservation Camp’

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    Following Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson’s remarks about Detroit and reservations saying the city already is one, several leaders are speaking out.

    In a New Yorker article published on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Patterson said he once warned his children not to visit Detroit and can now be compared to an Indian reservation.

    The distasteful and hateful remarks about Detroit have drawn sharp reaction from officials and community leaders, including Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

    “Growing up in Detroit in the 1960s was a great time to be a kid, especially when your dad is the mayor. I remember riding around with my dad thinking Detroit was the greatest city in the world. Fast forward many decades, I still believe that Detroit is a great city and is only going getting better over time,” said State Rep. Phil Cavanagh.

    “Detroit, like most major cities throughout time, has seen its ups and downs and everything in between. When you think of Detroit today it’s hard to imagine a place plagued with urban decay and graffiti covered streets as a place anyone would consider as a vacation destination.”

    Cavanagh said like most major populous cities throughout the United States, Detroit has beautiful areas flourishing with new hotels, restaurants, art galleries and sports arenas.

    “We have the Detroit International Jazz Festival, the Woodward Dream Cruise, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Belle Isle, Detroit Eastern Market, the Motown Historical Museum, Greektown, American Coney Island and Lafayette Coney Island — take the coney dog challenge yourself — and so much more,” Cavanagh said.

    “Being a Michigan representative who represents a portion of northwest Detroit, I would invite Paige Williams to come back, tour the city, and see all the great things that Detroit has to offer, all the great citizens that we have living here, and then decided for yourself whether or not Detroit should “drop dead.”

    Lon Johnson, chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, also condemned the offensive remarks.

    “As the leaders of the Michigan Republican Party, Gov. Snyder and Terri Lynn Land have a responsibility to address these inflammatory comments from Republican politician L. Brooks Patterson, and it’s time for them to speak up,” Johnson said.

    “Michigan Republicans should stand up for all Michigan communities. Snyder and Land should immediately condemn these divisive comments that aim to pit one region against another. I invite Gov. Snyder, Terri Lynn Land and L. Brooks Patterson to join me and other community leaders in visiting one of Detroit’s neighborhoods, to see many of the things that make the city great.”

    Rick Blocker, head of the 14th Congressional District, issued similar remarks.

    “We need elected leaders who will bring people together to build a stronger Detroit and a stronger Michigan, not tired politicians like Patterson who make a living pitting us against each other,” Blocker said. “Gov. Rick Snyder and Land should immediately condemn these outrageous remarks, and support common sense measures to promote equal opportunity for everyone in Michigan, like reversing Rick Snyder’s new taxes on poor and middle-class families.”

    Patterson issued this apology:

    “I regret that something I said 30 years ago is causing such consternation today. I have worked hard to build good relationships with some of the past mayors of Detroit. I do not intend for the New Yorker article to damage my relationship with Mayor Duggan and I look forward to working with him over the next four years.”

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